Today’s Star contains a pair of articles by Tess Kalinowski and Christopher Hume on the joys of the Queen car. Recently, National Geographic listed the 501 as one of the world’s ten top streetcar rides in Journeys of a Lifetime. Some riders may feel that’s an apt description of their typical journey.
A few nuggets from the TTC in the article show that this organization still refuses to understand and accept its own role in the destruction of riding on this line. Marilyn Bolton, speaking for the TTC, is quoted:
Much of the 501’s ridership decline coincided with the expansion of the Bloor-Danforth subway and the Scarborough RT in the 1980s, according to the TTC.
“Riders moved up (north) to take advantage of the new subway lines and moved away from the Queen streetcar,” said Bolton.
A look at the statistics [discussed here on December 11] shows that ridership on the Queen Street corridor fell during a period long after the Bloor Subway opened in 1966 (extended to Islington and Warden in 1968, then to Kipling and Kennedy in 1980).
That old chestnut about congestion shows up again:
The sheer length of the route is also a problem. When a car blocks a streetcar by making an illegal left turn or someone parks on the tracks or some other delay occurs on the line, the reverberations travel a long way.
As my analyses of operations on streetcar routes have shown quite clearly, major blockages of service are rare and the disarray in operations can be traced substantially to poor line management and dubious on-time performance even when there is no external source of delays. Without question, the length of the route magnifies any event, but minor delays are a fact of life for transit operations.
The article also includes a claim that it takes up to five hours to make a trip on Queen. That’s for a round trip, not a one-way, and even then, this is a rare situation belonging to major storms and regional traffic snarls.
If riders migrated north to the BD subway, they were driven away by poor, unreliable service on Queen. After the Fix the 501 Forum, the TTC claims it will change its operations and address reliability issues. Inventing new excuses for driving away riding at a rate unmatched elsewhere on the system is no way to tackle the problem.