A few items have come in recently about service on the 501 that continues to leave people waiting in the cold for ages. I have collected them here to start a new thread.
Ed from Toronto writes:
I sent the following email today to Councillors Grimes and Giambrone. I am looking forward to seeing the analysis of the “improved” service, but my experiences the past few weeks has left me with little patience with the TTC.
Since buying a house in Long Branch two years ago, I have been a regular rider of the 501 Queen route to and from work at Spadina and Queen. I have often contacted the TTC because of unreliable streetcar service to Long Branch. I was present, and spoke, at the “Fixing the Queen Car” forum held December 4th 2007.
I am now regretting the forum because it has made things even worse for south Etobicoke residents.
6:30 PM: I just missed a 501 LONG BRANCH car–it had pulled forward to turn south on Spadina. I walked to the shelter at Soho and waited.
6:37 PM: 501 HUMBER
6:41 PM: 501 HUMBER
6:52 PM: 501 HUMBER
6:54 PM: 501 HUMBER
7:11 PM: 501 LONG BRANCH
This is over a forty-minute wait for a streetcar travelling west of Humber loop.
And the sad punchline: I talked to the operator. He said, “CIS told me to turn at McCaul. I told them I had two hundred people trying to get home, so let me go through, and they agreed.” CIS is being infuriatingly stupid, and the TTC does not care about service to south Etobicoke. I was fortunate that one operator cared enough to get us riders home. Is this what it has come to–I make it home only because an operator is particularly conscientious and cares about his passengers?
This is not an isolated incident. When I wait for a westbound streetcar in the evenings, it is usual to have to let a couple of HUMBER and a one or two RONCESVALLES cars go by before a LONG BRANCH shows up. I have a colleague here at work who lives in Mimico, and his stories are the same. In the mornings, the service is nothing like claimed by the schedule. There can be gaps of twenty minutes or more, at which point two or three streetcars arrive together.
I think it’s pathetic that there had to be a forum to get the TTC to admit that there are issues with the Queen car.
And I find it absolutely infuriating that the only solution the TTC has to appease residents east of Kingston Road is to abandon any kind of reliable service west of Roncesvalles, and certainly west of Humber loop. It is utterly unacceptable that someone sitting at a desk somewhere in CIS central would try to short-turn LONG BRANCH cars even though there is already a huge gap in service to south Etobicoke, as was the case last night.
In talking with a number of operators on the Queen car, they all say:
“They’re not short-turning any cars in the east end any more, so the west end is totally screwed up.”
“Every other car should go to Long Branch, but you’re lucky if every fifth is a Long Branch car.”
Mitch Stambler can please come and live west of Humber loop, or even better yet west of Kipling, and experience for himself the completely unreliable service his organization is providing.
The TTC brain trust could compare the 2.5 km stretch between Woodbine loop and Neville loop, with the 8.5 km stretch between Humber loop and Long Branch loop. This stretch includes Mimico, New Toronto, and Long Branch, as well as all the new condos going up in the hotel lands. The TTC is alienating even committed riders, never mind people who might start taking the streetcar if it was reliable (but of course it isn’t).
I will follow up with Councillor Grimes on this matter. I am also sending this on to Ed Drass and Steve Munro. I am completely fed up with the TTC’s inability to actually provide good transit, despite numerous complaints by myself and many other people. I am looking forward to Steve Munro’s analysis of Queen service December 2007-January 2008, which should show that the “improvements”, sadly, aren’t.
Thanks for your attention.
I expect to receive the CIS data from the TTC for December and January in the near future, and we will be able to see what changes in line management are visible following the December public meetings. Yours is not the only complaint I have heard like this.
Mike Olivier wrote:
This is a recent complaint I made from the TTC online form:
I was standing at the south side of the sheltered platform, and there were 3 people inside the shelter at Long Branch Loop, as it was a bit windy and snowing.
The ALRV streetcar driver finished his break at the washroom building, accelerated the streetcar around the loop, right through the stop, and kept on accelerating through the intersection and through the green light, completely missing us 4 waiting
Once he passed the stop I yelled and screamed at the driver, but he was oblivious. At this point he was going so fast that I couldn’t read the ALRV number.
The 4 of us waiting passengers were in shock that the driver showed no indication of slowing and looking for waiting passengers and was constantly accelerating from standstill at the west end of the loop right on to Lakeshore Blvd.
Having heard that the TTC was implementing headway scheduling on the 501 route, versus time based scheduling, I wondered if this driver who bypassed us was trying to catch up to his slot, as he’d spent 5+ minutes at the end of the loop.
Sure enough, 1 minute after he left going eastbound, another ALRV arrived at Long Branch Loop.
What good is a transit service that doesn’t bother to stop or look for waiting passengers, especially on a wintry evening?
Date of Event 01 Fe 2008
Time of Event 9.12 p.m.
Employee Badge Number Unknown
Employee Description Unknown
Vehicle No. (four digits) or
Run No. or
Licence Plate Unknown
Route Name and/or Number
Vehicle direction of travel East
Location of Occurrence Long Branch Loop
I received an email from TTC, Reference# 197906, acknowledging my complaint.
Finally, an article in the National Post rains scorn on the TTC’s claims of service improvements.
Mark Dowling writes:
“we need a realistic statement from the TTC about fleet availability for more service between now and the point we start seeing a new fleet.”
From the National Post:
Part of the problem is a streetcar shortage. Back in 1988, when TTC ridership peaked, the TTC operated 300 streetcars. Since then the TTC has cut 52 streetcars, to 248, while adding streetcar service on Spadina and Queens Quay. In fact, the TTC informs me, it has “a maximum of 186 streetcars currently scheduled for service.” The other 62 are in the shop.
Yesterday, outside a TTC meeting at City Hall, Mitch Stambler, manager of service planning, said the TTC is considering temporarily replacing streetcar service with buses on Bathurst Street and Kingston Road “on an interim, temporary, defined, limited basis only,” so they can add streetcars on the busiest routes (King, Queen and Carlton).
“The streetcar fleet is so stinkin’ old that options are very limited,” he said.
The change on Bathurst, at least, is only proposed for the morning rush hour. The service requirements for the PM peak are not as great as this is spread over a longer period.
I expect that we will see more information on this as part of the expected May report on reorganization of the Queen and King services.
As for Stambler’s remarks about the streetcar fleet, we need some honest answers about how many cars are really available for service, and how much of a constraint exists from the number of available operators. Although the peak fleet may be limited, nothing prevents the TTC from dealing with off-peak service and overcrowding on streetcar lines.