What Can We Do About the Queen Car?

The Rocket Riders will devote their December 4 meeting (Metro Hall, 6:30 pm) to a discussion of the Queen Car, its many problems and ways to fix them.  In support of this, I will start publishing analyses of that route’s operation here based on the CIS data from December 2006.

Yes, I have let that whole project slip out of sight in past months for a variety of reasons.  Mea culpa.

Here is an overview of my past writing on this issue:

Route Structure

The amalgamation of the Queen and Long Branch services was a disaster from the day it started, but the TTC has never acknowledged this problem or studied alternatives, publicly, in detail.  One extremely long line is impossible to manage.  The schedule includes a huge amount of padding for “recovery time” that is actually counterproductive because operators can basically run on any time they please and still have time for a lengthy break at the end of the line.

Service on the Long Branch section is very spotty with very long gaps quite common.

Service on Kingston Road is compromised by the difficulty of integrating the 502 and 503 services and by the very wide off-peak scheduled headway.

My proposed route structure is not definitive, and I am sure others will come up with various schemes.  The underlying theme is to shorten routes and to provide overlaps so that short-turns will not totally devestate service.

  • Queen car from Humber to Neville
  • Lake Shore car from Brown’s Line to downtown via King (Monday to Friday until early evening)
  • Lake Shore car from Brown’s Line to Dundas West Station (M-F evening, weekends and holidays)
  • Kingston Road car from Victoria Park to a single downtown destination

Peak Period Operations

A major problem exists on both King and Queen with the morning peak where many cars enter service off-schedule.  This plays havoc with service at the ends of the lines due to short turns and causes ragged headways at a time when there is no traffic congestion to blame for this situation.

The peak period Lake Shore trippers to downtown do not operate at predictable times even there is no possible way that “traffic congestion” can interfere with on-time operation.

Vehicle Allocation

[Note:  An ALRV is the 75-foot long two-section streetcars commonly seen on King, Queen and Bathurst.  A CLRV is the 50-foot long car seen on the system overall.]

The 501 operates with ALRVs on wide headways while the 504 runs with CLRVs on close headways.  The TTC should reverse this arrangement so that ALRVs are used on King where their greater capacity is badly needed.

Equally important will be that we actually see ALRVs where they are scheduled.  The number of times in the past year when I have seen CLRVs operating ALRV runs on Queen, overcrowded because they are carrying an ALRV headways, is quite ridiculous.  In my review of the King car, I found that the peak period extra ALRVs that are supposed to build capacity inbound through Parkdale in the morning are more often operated with CLRVs.

The TTC seems to be utterly incapable of assigning larger vehicles where they are required.

Service Levels

On Queen, the change to CLRVs on closer headways would improve the frequency of service even with the inevitable short-turns.

On Lake Shore, the change to CLRVs will improve scheduled headways, and integration to a single downtown destination will avoid the problems inherent with a few rogue trippers.  Combined with a shorter, easier-to-manage  route, this should make service in southern Etobicoke much more attractive.

On Kingston Road, consolidation of the 502 and 503 would provide one common, frequent service during the peak period that would have some hope of reliability outbound from a single downtown location.

On King, the change to ALRVs would provide additional capacity provided that current headways are maintained.


The Ridership Growth Strategy seeks to improve service quality, but little attention has been paid to the streetcar network on the grounds that the fleet is fully committed already.  This is certainly not true during off-peak periods, and the TTC needs to account for the large number of spare cars during the peak.

Proposals for transit priority must focus on “micro” changes to individual intersections and neighbourhoods with parking restrictions and signal improvements.  The “macro” scheme for reserved lanes through the business district does not address major sources of congestion, and diverts attention and effort from overall improvements to route operations.

There is no question that improving service level and quality on these major crosstown routes will cost more.  There should be a huge incentive for the TTC to improve line management.  Sadly, they will more likely trot out their usual complaints about congestion as the source of all troubles.  The cheapest service improvement comes from managing what we have properly.

21 thoughts on “What Can We Do About the Queen Car?

  1. Hi Steve.

    I hope that the TTC will at least listen to the input that it will recieve on this problem. In all of this, has the TTC ever listened to any input from the operators who work Queen? If anyone should know where there are problems with service and traffic congestion on a regular basis it would be the guys on the ground. Or, would such thinking be to radical for the TTC and its transit planners?

    Steve: There are a number of interlocked problems underlying this situation:

    Operations (who actually manages the service) doesn’t listen to Service Planning (who build the scheduled).
    Service Planning is quite defensive about what it has done in the past and tends to fall back on the “not enough resources” claim when alternatives come forward.
    Service Planning (and Ops too probably) have convinced the politicians that the root of all problems is congestion, not bad scheduling or line management.
    Politicians are loathe to hold staff’s feet to the fire except when they want to grandstand against the TTC in general rather than detailed operational issues.
    No detailed analysis of line behaviour has ever been undertaken as far as I know other than the work I have done with CIS data. The capability to do this has always existed and was part of the original promise of CIS, but nothing was ever implemented. To date I have received no feedback from the TTC on the material I gave them regarding the King car six months ago.

    We need a combination of a will by the politicians to recognize that service needs to be improved, a will by staff to make proposals that address the streets and lines as they are rather than building impossible requirements for transit exclusivity, and a determination to find how out lines actually work and how they might be improved. Talking to the people who manage and operate the lines today would be a good start, and would provide the “on the ground” counterpart to the sort of overall view that is available from the CIS data.

    [For those unfamiliar with this discussion, CIS is the “Communications & Information System”, the vehicle monitoring system implemented decades ago by the TTC. It has been described as “the best 1970s technology money could buy”. As is so common in Toronto, it was a home-grown system that would show the world how to do things properly. The world shrugged, and uses other much more modern technology.]


  2. I agree with your analysis of the King and Queen routes and definitely concur that with better line management both routes could be more efficient. A major concern – which we have discussed in these pages previously – with the King car is that the “morning wave” (eastbound) is unregulated and the cars are bunched in groups of 6 or so with large gaps between the groups. This leads to one car with unbelievable overcrowding. one car properly loaded, 2 or 3 cars at less than capacity and one or even two cars at the end of the group passing University and Bay wth almost no one aboard. By waiting for one or two cars,a nd very little additional time, I can get a single seat at Shaw Street almost every day. The first car in the group – even at Shaw – is usually full right to the front doors.

    It is important that any recommendations that Rocket Riders puts forth be well thought out and devoid of emotion. As a careful follower of your writings and a frequent streetcar rider, I have come to the conclusion that “mixed traffic” congestion is not the top cause of poor service. I am still hugely in favour of reserved ROW whenever practical, but now concur that the reason we have lousy service on the streetcar routes is primarily because the TTC decides to offer lousy service.

    I stopped attending Rocket Riders after a few meetings because of the prevelance of strongly held, but un researched dogma. I share the belief that cars have too much dominance in our transportatioon mix and would like to do what I can to influence society to adopt other (in my opinion) more efficient and less damaging modes. However, we do live in a free society and every person is entitled to make their own choices. For some, it remains their belief that the way to best protect their family is to buy a big SUV and drive everywhere. While I, and others, may think that this is unwise, we can only seek to influence society and specific individuals. We do not have the right to impose our will. Sadly, I found that there was a desire to impose at the Rocket Riders meetings that I attended.

    As an example, there was widespread concurrence at one meeting that a good traffic solution for Toronto would be to take down the Gardiner and not replace it. I do drive on occasion – including on the day of the Ride for Heart when the Gardiner is closed on a weekend day. During that light traffic day chaos ensues on every other east west street up north as far (perhaps farther) as Bloor. Obviously taking down the Gardiner would make commuting in a weekday rush hour impossible. When I raised this point two rationales were given. One that traffic would naturally over time adjust (to where) and second that 70% of the trips to downtown offices are by transit, bicycle or foot and the rest could just adjust. When I reminded them that the 30% who have the parking spots are also those who decide where the jobs are or move to, they acted like I was Mike Harris who had wandered into the wrong meeting. As Joe Pantalone is fond of pointing out, if those jobs do indeed move to Markham or other outlying areas, the 70% who now use transit, cycling and walking will almost all be forced to drive. (I think the loss of jobs in Toronto, and the “reverse commute” from a city that is increasingly a bedroom community and entertainment district for the 905 is the biggest challenge facing this city.)

    In closing, if a meaningful debate about the Queen car is going to present options which are going to be heeded, I suggest the following framework:
    1. Respect must be maintained for the points of view of others. It is fair game to present the flaws in current transportation systems – particularly car commuting.(Pollution, comngestion, injuries). It is not fair game to demonise others for their choices.
    2. Solutions must be well thought out and supported by evidence and logic. Simply stating “there are too many cars” over and over is not a solution.
    3. Solutions must be practical. People need to get to work in our city and arbitrary or impractical solutions might end congestion, but at the expense of the jobs we need to survive. To quote Joe Pantalone once again, we need to avoid solutions where “the operation was a success, but the patient died.” (That in reference to the wacky (that’s my opinion) idea to create alternate block one way sections on King in the core.)

    I think maybe I will attend RR once more on December 4, just to see how things turn out – and hoping for the best, hear well thought out creative ideas uncoloured by invective.


  3. The Queen tram line is very difficult to manage in its existing form. I take this line every day when I go on lunch. How can one manage headways, when it takes one traffic light cycle for a car to turn left on Peter St? This holds up the tram as usual. Of course, there will be bunching. Sometimes I walk from Spadina all the way to McCaul and not a single tram would pass.

    The people parking on the street does not help the problem either. People trying to parallel park often ends up blocking the tramway. Delivery vehicles along with jay walking pedestrians make Queen St a virtual standstill. It does not matter whether we listen to the operators or management. A car blocking the tram way cannot be removed by better scheduling.

    The only way the Queen tram can be fast is to make Queen St a car free zone. With the Bombardier CityFlo 350 controller on a dedicated right of way, schedule adherence becomes easy. The computer can determine whether to hold a car at station longer or accelerate faster to maintain schedule.

    We should aim for both capacity increase and schedule adherence. When Queen St becomes car free, operating Bombardier Flexisty Outlook on a 4 car configuration becomes possible. This will almost match the capacity of the Sheppard Line.


  4. How about burying it? I’m actually serious. There’s even a roughed-in underground station at Queen for easy subway connections. If it makes sense to bury the Transit City line on Eglinton then surely it makes sense to bury the Queen car.

    Steve: You deserve a place working in TTC management. Why spend a small amount of money to improve service and line management when you can spend hundreds of millions (a) disrupting downtown for construction and (b) replacing a surface route with one underground that does not serve many existing stops?

    I hate to sound catty, but the TTC doesn’t have this kind of money, and if it did, we could have fixed many problems on the system years ago.


  5. Steve:

    Is there really enough demand along the Queensway to warrant service by both the 508, Long Branch Church service and the 501, Queen Humber, cars. I believe they should be turned at Roncesvalles and the cars used to improve service elsewhere.

    Steve: There is a dual intent here. First, by scheduling the Queen cars to run to Humber (which will become Park Lawn by late 2008), there is a fighting chance that most of the service will at least reach Sunnyside. Also, this will give the growing population in the Humber Bay area the choice of either the 501 or 507/508 for a downtown trip during weekdays, and will preserve a direct ride for them on weekends when, under my proposal, the 507/508 goes to Dundas West. The route overlaps are deliberate.


  6. At the November TTC Meeting they are to discuss the Park Lawn Loop and in the Report on it are some user questions. This one seems to hit the question on the head, as it were.

    8. What action is being taken to improve reliability on the 501 Queen and 508 Lake Shore services to Long Branch?

    The TTC is well aware of the problems in the Queen Street corridor and has been evaluating the situation across the line. Potential solutions, including revised schedules and splitting the route into shorter, more manageable pieces are now being reviewed for implementation. Any changes implemented will be monitored over time to evaluate their effectiveness in improving service reliability.

    Could this mean they are actually listening??

    Steve: The question here is whether this will be a patched-up “solution” to the problem, or a serious attempt to provide better service.


  7. What’s the most recent automotive traffic count along the Queen Line? If I don’t miss my guess, the crush load on a TTC ALRV is 225 passengers, which even at three-minute headways would move 4500 passengers per hour each way. For the sake of comparison, Benny Cheung’s four-car Flexity or Combino consists would raise that figure to 16,000–*if* the blocks on Queen Street could accommodate 120-metre trains. Turning the Queen Line to a dedicated right of way assumes that it’s possible to pull 11,500 rush-hour commuters out of their cars–or that the stragglers can be dumped onto other east-west arteries through downtown Toronto.

    Steve: I think that 120-metre trains are utterly farfetched for onstreet operations on Queen. To put this in context, 120 metres is 394 feet. This is almost as long as a 6-car subway train (137-metres). We don’t need that level of capacity on Queen Street, but we do need much more reliable service. Also, service should never be designed based on crush loads because these cannot be sustained over a long period, especially on a route with close stops and a lot of ons-and-offs along the way.


  8. Steve,

    I think your posts on this point are excellent. Have you had the chance to read the series on the Queen Car in the Beach Metro News.

    Beachers are more than a bit upset, the paper set they received a record amount of mail, almost all unfavourable about the Queen Car.

    This is the link to the article:


    Apparently they’re going to send all their angry letters to the local councillor, Sandra Bussin and to the TTC.

    I think they should have your proposed solution in hand when they do!


  9. Oh no, not another post on the Queen car! Aren’t we beating a dead horse here?

    Why doesn’t the TTC just abolish short turns? There’s really no way to solve the bunch/gap with streetcars — they just can’t pull over and idle to re-space themselves.

    If improvements for Queen were on the TTC’s radar for Transit City, then they would have received funding for possibly burying the line where the congestion problems occur most, say, between Sherbourne and Spadina?

    This kind of crap used to happen on Bloor too, not the short turns, but the bunch/gap problem. A good ‘ol subway fixed it for good.


  10. James mentioned the horrendous 501 service in the Beach, and Steve you’ve mentioned in other topics that Broadview often has poor service from short-turned King cars.

    As a solution, might I suggest a Queen car routing from Broadview Station to Neville, to ensure regular Beach service.


  11. It’s ironic when you think about how badly the whole 507-501 amalgamation backfired into a complete disaster compared to what management was originally thinking. The problem, it would seem, is that management (or the planners) either don’t know how to think, or don’t know which information to base their thinking on.

    I agree strongly with Steve on breaking the routes up. Nobody goes from Swansea to The Beaches by streetcar. Steve also seems to suggest a more omni-directional approach to King St., which I also agree would be a fabulous idea.

    Perhaps something along the lines of the following is viable in route modifications (these are more to illustrate the way of thinking, although I do think this could be a practical setup):

    501 Queen: Truncated at Roncesvalles and re-routed to Dundas West Subway
    502 Kingston: Rerouted to King and extended to Roncesvalles (car house area) terminus – CLRV route
    503 Downtowner: Terminated
    504 King: Current King route to remain as is but with ALRVs (as Steve’s suggested)
    507 Lakeshore: Reborn and extended to Dundas West Subway (as Steve’s suggested)
    508 Queensway: Park Lawn to Parliament via King (similar to Steve’s suggestion) – ALRV route

    There’s complications with the omni-directional approach to King since 3 routes overlap on King Street itself in this setup. This has schedule reliability issues. Majority of King cars would be ALRVs though, and another plus would be that one line having a problem (say on Broadview or Ronces) wouldn’t affect all service on King, only somewhere around 1/3rd of cars would not get through.


  12. As James mentioned, the situation in the Beaches is starting to get some attention. The one issue that seems to come up time and time again, is that there is little service between Kingston Road and Victoria Park – and even between Connaught and Victoria Park between around 6 and 7 pm on weekdays.

    I realise there is a lot of CIS data there, but any chance you could publish a list of departures eastbound at Woodbine, and westbound at Neville? It would be interesting to see how frequently things are as dire as claimed.

    Steve: I will be working on this over the weekend. Stay tuned.


  13. Here’s my service pattern idea:

    Alternate 1 (via Queen)
    501: Neville to Roncevalles
    507: Long Branch to downtown (on-street loop at Victoria/Church/Dundas/Queen?)
    501/507 (late evening & night only): Neville to Long Branch
    502: Kingston Road to Wolesley Loop (or McCaul, or Dufferin)

    Alternative 2 (via King)
    501: Neville to Roncevalles
    502: Kingston Road to downtown (Wolseley Loop? Dufferin Loop?) via King
    508: Long Branch to downtown (on-street loop on Wellington?) via King
    502/508 (late evening & night only): Long Branch to Kingston Road via King

    I don’t understand the idea of running the 507 to Dundas West off-peak, since I can’t see much demand for that service, but I do see a lot of demand for a service going downtown.


  14. Referring to the comment by Benny Cheung, congestion playing some role on Queen I believe is generally agreed, but making Queen a car-free zone is simply not in the cards. However, tackling the issues with parking on the street, including delivery stops, can be attacked directly.

    This would be an unconventional approach, although it has been in place before on Kingston, but that would be something like 3/4 of a century ago.

    Steve, perhaps you’d be able to give some interesting views on this concept, what if the Queen Car ran on the right lane?

    This is not a ROW idea.

    There are various advantages and drawbacks to this. By no means a complete list, but some of the more apparent ones would be:

    Advantages include:

    Easier/Safer boarding directly from the sidewalk
    An ability to directly target people who park illegally on Queen
    An ability to crack down on illegal delivery stops
    Islands (and their associated space issues) become obsolete, giving more room to the sidewalk

    Drawbacks include:

    Right turns at most intersections become impossible for the LRV and LRV left turns would most likely require special signals (however, this property might make longer vehicles in a mixed traffic setting more realistic, perhaps?)
    No parking possible at any point on Queen at any time, no exceptions
    Turning vehicles (auto) might have a harder time for both right- and left-turns (it’d a unique layout that may be confusing to some).

    Obviously this would be a long term thing to implement compared to a more painless route change. One of the advantages with the right lane idea though, is that it can be probably be built without suspending service, with the exception of the points at intersections with other track (revenue or non) which would have to be built in separate phases while services are rerouted. Queen would look funny for a while during such a transition as all lanes would have tracks around the cross-over period.

    Steve: There are many problems with this proposal. Firstly, you are never, ever going to ban parking on a 7×24 basis on Queen Street. Second, intersections would be difficult if not impossible to retain in their current configurations due to curve radius problems. Third, we have just finished rebuilding this route from one end to another.

    I hate to say this, but this falls into the category of spending a lot of money (although not as much as a subway), having years of upheaval, all to reach a point where we see whether anything has improved. There are many things wrong with the way the TTC runs the line today, and they don’t require such heroic efforts to fix.


  15. It’s been my observation that the reliability of particular runs on Queen are operator-dependent. One board period, a particular run will show up at the same time — maybe even the scheduled time! — and maintain schedule along the route. Next board period, a different operator takes over the run, and it’s always late, or erratic, always gets short-turned, etc.

    When you do the CIS analysis over a month (like you’re King part IX) you should go across a board change and see if runs which are reliable one period become unreliable in the other, or vice-versa. I suspect you will see some interesting changes in the behaviour of runs on different board periods.

    Steve jumps in: I only have the data for the month of December 2006 which does not contain a board change. However, even in the data I do have, one can see the difference between the core service, the runs that likely have the same operators most of the time, and the runs that are crewed as extras or swings without a consistent person in the driver’s seat.

    I am not suggesting that the issue is only the first few days of a period, maybe due to operators being unfamiliar with the route. I’ve seen operators who do NOT get better over time; my favourite morning run is currently not running well and that operator has been on 501 mornings for at least another board period with the same problems.

    The lesson I take from this is that it IS possible to have reasonably reliable service on the 501 Long Branch to Neville, IF all operators are of the “good, reliable” variety. Every run is reasonably on time, so short-turns aren’t required. (Currently, both “bad” and “good” operators can be short-turned, because the good operators are somewhat at the mercy of chaos caused by the bad ones.)

    Or — wait for it — the TTC could manage the line better so that the operators who aren’t currently maintaning their schedule, do so. This is a line and personnel management issue, largely. The TTC should be on top of this: it’s a fundamental requirement of a transit organization.

    Of course there will be accidents and traffic jams and other issues that will affect any line, whether it is street-running or on ROW. (Spadina has had to divert a few times in the past while due to accidents.) But there is absolutely no way that accidents and tie-ups are causing the constant erratic service on Queen. The fact that “good” operators show up every day at the same time is proof of that.

    IF the TTC starts putting resources into managing Queen, I believe that service reliability can increase dramatically, even keeping the long NEVILLE — LONG BRANCH routing.

    If the TTC does NOT improve line management, then all the schemes for splitting up the Queen run will simply leave riders with multiple routes with erratic service. This will not be an improvement!

    The pseudo-507 service offered in Septemnber and October show that more streetcars on different routes aren’t useful if four show up a minute before you get to the stop, followed by a half-hour gap (which is a common rider anecdote).

    The usual scenario when shuttles are used: from the shuttle bus, you can see the streetcar pull away 30 seconds before the bus arrives; from the streetcar, you can see the shuttle bus pull away 30 seconds before the streetcar arrives. That was the typical story when the trackwork west of Kipling was being done.

    The first priorty must be improving line management. Only when the line is being managed a lot better, should there be any thought about splitting the route. If we ask the TTC to split the Queen route first, and then hope that line management will improve because the routes have been split, we are asking for more misery than is humaly endurable. They can’t manage Queen and King properly right now; why on earth would they start managing a sudden increase in routes: Queen, King, Queen/Kingston Road, Lakeshore(1), Lakeshore(2), etc. properly? They won’t. But at least each route will get fewer complaints — because they are shorter, and riders will have turned to walking, bicycling, or driving.

    Steve: The problem of “runaway” buses and streetcars where shuttles meet the base route is a testimonial both to bad management and lousy operator morale (I am being kind). When the whole purpose of a shuttle is to provide a temporary “bridge” service, connections to the regular route are an obvious requirement, and leaving before the passengers show up is a flagrant abdication of an operator’s responsibility.

    Of course, Humber Loop used to have flashing lights to show operators when a Queen or Long Branch car was about to arrive. Some operators treated this as a cue to flee before the connecting vehicle could load them up with passengers. This is not a new problem, and it speaks to the TTC’s unwillingness to properly manage its operations.


  16. I think that this post has a partial solution to the problem, and no it’s not the “expensive build a subway” either.

    Stop short turning the cars around in the first place!!!

    It seems to me that the passengers don’t care if it’s trip 1, 2, 3 or 50 that they are on, they want it show up and take them to their destination in a timely manner. The operators’ need for breaks could be helped by relief operator stops located along the route and at terminals.

    The King car short turns at Church or Parliament take the cars too far from “revenue” operation to be useful. It must be a good 10 minutes (or more) before those cars have passengers. At least McCaul, Wolseley and Kingston Rd. are adjacent to the route. And that doesn’t offer much solace to the poor soul waiting for a car that’s just been short turned.

    I think the short turns all stem from the obsession that the TTC has with statistics, which proves only one thing. That they’ve got something to hide. Anyone else think it could be poor service? A statistic that says we had 2-1/2 minute headway at some point on the route is meaningless to someone standing in the cold at a stop waiting for what seems like forever.

    If we removed some of the Supervisors from the streets and put them on streetcars as drivers we’d be better off too. And it’s not like they’d be missed as wouldn’t need as many as they wouldn’t be short turning cars to keep up those useless statistics!

    Steve: There are several interrelated issues here.

    First is the way work is crewed on the TTC. An operator signs for a crew that has a reporting time (when to show up for work), a time to take a vehicle into service (or to take over one on the street), and a time to either pass that vehicle along to someone else, or run it in to the carhouse. [Yes, this is a simplification that ignores split shifts and scheduled breaks, but the idea is the same.] The TTC moves heaven and earth to keep operators on time so that they get off work as scheduled and don’t book overtime.

    However, there is a catch-22 if we were to build a flexible end time into every crew. On many occasions operators would be paid “for doing nothing” because it was a calm day and they finished work “on time”. It would not take long for some operators, at least, to expect this extra pay all the time just as, indeed, “recovery time” intended to deal with traffic problems quickly evolves into lengthy layovers at terminals even when a car is late. Queen is particularly bad for this. Not all operators do this, but there are enough, and there appears to be no attempt to deal with the situation, that it screws up headways.

    Second, there are times, frankly, where cars are short-turned that are only slightly late, and they re-enter service at almost the same place in the flow as where they left it. Moreover, there is no attempt to manage re-entries so that they are well-spaced with the through service. Both of these are management problems.

    Third, the TTC has a fetish for “on time performance” and staff reports it every month to the Commission. Alas, for frequent routes, riders don’t care if a car is on time as you point out, only that there is a reliable headway and almost all vehicles reach the terminus. Again this is a management problem. A common issue in any management system (I say this from bitter professional experience) is that people construct meaningless “performance indicators” to simplify their understanding of what is going on. Such indicators actually distort the underlying organization whose goal becomes making the index come out right, not providing good service to clients.


  17. I like combining the 502 and 503 into a single route. I had the opportunity to commute downtown on the combined service last month (I normally work in the burbs), and it was great on the way in, but it was less effective on the way home since I didn’t know if I was better off waiting on Queen or King. I ended up deciding I would take the first car as far as Broadview, where I could transfer if necessary, but that is far from ideal.

    An important thing to consider in whatever solution ends up being recommended is the need for local service in the Beach, not just trips to and from downtown. It seems like a lot of the focus has been on getting kicked off short-turning cars at Kingston Road, but the Queen car serves an important role in providing local service, or at least it would if it was actually reliable. Instead, half the time it’s faster to walk.

    The last time I tried to use it for a local trip was with my wife on a bitterly cold day this past winter around 6:30 or so, when we were transferring from the Woodbine bus to head east to Beech. There were already people that had been waiting for a while, and we ended up waiting another half hour for the inevitable platoon of four or five cars. Normally I would have kept walking from Woodbine and got on whenever a car came, but my wife had a transfer, so we were stuck waiting. Instead we could have walked there and back in the time we ended up waiting. Since then I walk, drive, or bike to the Beach, but I don’t trust the service that supposedly runs every five minutes to be any faster than walking.


  18. Those flashing lights at Humber Loop that were mentioned, could a similar thing be implemented to help operators maintain headways? If something that actually could measure headways and let operators know what the headway is between them and the car in front of them every x km, realigning to scheduled headways could be simplified a lot and reduce short turning (although the on-schedule fetish wouldn’t be addressed with this) – but such headway measuring points would need to be located carefully, as the wrong location would make them useless, particularly at interlining points like Roncesvalles. Ideally, they are not placed at stops either (as passengers get a little too much fuel to complain with in that case, as if angry passengers aren’t already a problem on the system). Being strategically-placed localized trips, they wouldn’t require any kind of IT networking either.

    Steve: At the risk of pointing out the obvious, this sort of thing should have been built into CIS years ago, but all CIS tells an operator is whether he is on time, not where he is relative to the car ahead. The problems CIS has actually finding where cars really are is another problem, but this will be fixed over the next few years as the TTC converts the location detection to GPS.


  19. If TTC keeps insisting that traffic congestion is the reason for streetcar delays, then the absolutely simplest, obvious, easiest solution would be to change the allowed parking time for cars (or delivery trucks) on main streetcar routes to 7 PM, instead of the existing 6 PM. As a regular TTC rider and occasional driver, I’ve noticed that traffic moves quickly until 6 PM when cars are legally allowed to park along the two busiest routes in the Beaches area. Then the traffic becomes very congested after 6 PM, because of these parked cars. This solution would only involve the cost of changing the signs. My idea may sound too simple, but I’m sure it would work out for the best of everyone.

    Twice a week, I would have to catch the Queen streetcar eastbound from Coxwell and I would always have to wait a long time for a streetcar that would go as far as Neville Park. I became so frustrated one day, that I actually counted how many streetcars came, but were short turned at Coxwell or Kingston Rd. Believe it or not, I counted TWELVE!!! And they were all double-cars. FINALLY, one came that was actually heading into the Beaches area, but it was packed with passengers who were obviously waiting as myself, along the Queen St. route. Once the streetcar proceeded eastward, the traffic became very congested, especially east of Woodbine, due to all the parked cars! As I mentioned before, this could be prevented if the signs were changed to only allow parking on these routes AFTER 7 PM. Does anyone agree with me?

    Steve: As part of its program to update traffic regulations, the City has proposed extending the period of rush hour parking bans to 7 pm. Alas, they are only looking at the core area, not neighbourhoods like the Beach.


  20. Short excerpts from a Globe and Mail article, Dec. 9, 1954, page 5

    “Fewer Short-Turns New Policy for the TTC”

    Grumbling of TTC passengers at being ordered off of short-turn streetcars has been heard by senior commission authorities. The TTC claims it has launched an all out effort to eliminate such cars on the KING, QUEEN and BLOOR Street lines. In future short-turning of streetcars will only be ordered in the event of fires or accidents or some other major street emergency.

    Steve: Don’t expect fast action on that. After all, in December 1954, they were still learning how to run a subway line.


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