Now and then, in the interest of actually experiencing the wonderful transit system I write about so much, I make a longer-than-usual journey that could work brilliantly or be a complete disaster. Today was the occasion for such a journey.
My mission: Travel from Scarborough Town Centre starting at 5:30 pm to Fifth Street in New Toronto for a 7:30 pm meeting of the Lakeshore Planning Council.
The outbound journey:
- 5:30 Leave Scarborough Town Centre Station on the RT.
- 5:42 Just miss a train at Kennedy. The next train is held due to a delay in progress at Donlands.
- 5:50 Leave Kennedy Station.
- Hold westbound at Pharmacy due to queue of trains.
- Slow trip westbound to Donlands until we clear trains bound for Greenwood Yard.
- Hold westbound at Chester, Yonge, St. George and Christie to space service.
- 6:42 arrive at Dundas West Station. A quick calculation of the likely running time to Islington means I will miss the 110 Islington South and the next one is 24 minutes later.
- Take the 504 instead — it is sitting on the platform and the operator re-opens the door for late arrivals even though he is running in to Roncesvalles Carhouse.
- At Queen, the preceding 504 car was waiting for transfer passengers from my car.
- At the westbound stop, many are waiting. This could be a bad sign, or it could indicate I have arrived just in time. A car bound for the carhouse is just leaving the stop westbound.
- The next car after a wait is going to Humber, and I board to see where the passsengers are headed. As we go west, I note that the switch at Sunnyside Loop is open indicating that the car two in front of us short turned there. Nothing has been to Humber in a while.
- 7:00 arrive at Humber Loop. Several people get off my car and walk through the underpass to Lake Shore. Many are there already waiting for a Long Branch car.
- 7:15: two Long Branch cars arrive.
- On the trip out Lakeshore, we passed a parade of three inbound cars including two 508 Lake Shore cars which are supposed to be much further apart.
- 7:30 arrive at 5th and Lake Shore and walk to the meeting.
Notable on the outbound trip on Lake Shore were the people boarding even after a long break in service. There is strong local demand on Lake Shore itself that is ill served by the chaotic service getting past Humber.
I arrived at my meeting more or less on time, but all of the padding I had included for grabbing a snack enroute was eaten up by delays and erratic service. The locals at the meeting considered my experience on the 501 to be quite typical. They took pity and fed me chocolate chip cookies.
We discussed many things: The coming Regional Transportation Plan, the Waterfront West LRT and, of course, the 501 service. The Lake Shore folks don’t have much use for the planned Park Lawn loop as all this will accomplish is to shift the turnback closer to the expensive condos from Humber, while leaving the service beyond to the Lake Shore community as it is today. We talked about alternatives including the need for reliable service in to connect with other lines at least to Dundas West Station, if not to downtown. I will leave a full discussion of the 501 until the TTC’s report comes later this month.
My trip home was uneventful. The Lake Shore folks suggested my best strategy was to wait at Seventh and Lake Shore for the Queen car or the Islington South bus, whichever came first. Considering that the 110 only runs every 30 minutes at this hour, that’s not much of a vote of confidence in the 501, but I got lucky and a 501 came along as I was getting to the stop.
- 9:27 leave eastbound from Seventh Street. There was a good indication of local traffic with people getting off at various stops in to Mimico. The condos were bereft of traffic.
- 9:42 leave Humber
- 9:50 leave Roncesvalles
- 9:57 leave Dufferin
- 10:06 leave Bathurst
- 10:16 leave Yonge
- 10:25 exit from the 501 at Broadview
- 10:27 board a 504 northbound from Queen
- 10:35 leave Broadview Station
On the trip across Queen, the car stopped to board passengers at every stop from Colborne Lodge Road (the bottom of High Park) to Church Street. This is an example of local demand. People don’t board at one place, but all along a route. Their destinations are everywhere. Plans for transit networks of the future that ignore offpeak, local demand ignore a vital part of the transit market of which my view from the Queen car was a microcosm.
Here we have two trips, one a real mess on a perfectly ordinary day, and the other a textbook case of how transit should work. We need far more of the good ones.