Will the Long Branch Car Live Again?

Updated January 8:  A regular correspondent reports that the Service Assistance Crews are back at work at Russell Carhouse.  I am awaiting further info on other points raised in this post.

Original post:

There are days when I receive the electronic equivalent of a “brown envelope” with information that is tantalizing and, if correct, quite interesting news.  Here are the main points.

  • The Service Assistance Crews (SAC) have been invisible and the supervisors simply have not been outside at Russell for the last two weeks.  Crews were actually there throughout the holidays with no supervisors to tell them where to go and when.
  • Today, the new Board Period started with the January schedules, and SAC has been cancelled for the upcoming two weeks.
  • The entire SAC system is going to be cancelled because of cost.
  • The 507 is coming back between Humber and Long Branch. Obviously the earliest this could happen is at the next board period which falls in mid February.

If anyone “in the know” cares to comment (anonymously if you want), please confirm or deny the info here.

Yesterday, I myself was riding the 501 and overheard a conversation with a Supervisor who was collecting data on delays.  It was a quiet day, and the car had no trouble staying on time.

This is the sort of thing that should leave me rolling on the floor if this were not the “greatest transit system on the planet”.  Assuming that the above is true, then:

  • What was going on during Christmas where there were SAC operators but nobody to manage them?
  • Why are so many supervisors needed to manage a route?
  • Why can’t the TTC collect delay information from CIS, especially now that it is GPS based?  I published detailed analyses of the 501 and other routes some time ago, and the TTC should be able to do the same.
  • Is the SAC project being cancelled because of cost pressures, or is the crew management for Queen going to be changed so that this practice can be integrated in the schedules?
  • Is the 507 Long Branch coming back?  If so, what will be the scheduled level of service, and what provision will be made for protected connections at Humber (assuming any of the 501 service gets past Sunnyside Loop)?
  • Why has there been no report to the Commission on a change in route structure?  The last time out, we were told that leaving things as one route was just fine, thank you, and improved management was what was needed.  Where is the detailed analysis of alternative route structures?

Now all of this may be a tempest in a teapot as rumours around the TTC are quite common.  All the same it would be nice to know what’s going on.  Keep those cards and letters coming in!

32 thoughts on “Will the Long Branch Car Live Again?

  1. As the 507 has never operated since I moved to Toronto I looked it up in Transit Toronto. Others may find their useful description a useful ‘refresher”. http://transit.toronto.on.ca/streetcar/4111.shtml

    I had thought that the Humber loop was going to be removed once the Park Lawn one is built (2009?) but I suppose having a transfer point there might be better.


  2. I wonder if 501 Queen cars will go to Park Lawn while 507 Lake Shore cars go to Ronces. I think Park Lawn would make for a poor terminus of the 507 and some degree of overlap should be required between the 2 anyway.


  3. With all the problems there’ve been with the 501 since the merger with the 507 it definitely seems like a grand idea to bring back the 507. I’m sure there’ll be some along Lakeshore who won’t like losing the one-seat ride but perhaps some mix of 501 through service and 507 local service might be feasible. One thing I question, though, is the need for a loop at Park Lawn. If the WWLRT ever gets built they should at least look into shelving that loop and combining the 507 and the WWLRT into one route.

    Steve: The Park Lawn loop is a leftover of the days when the WWLRT was only going to Legion Road for a potential connection to a relocated Mimico Station on GO.

    Yes, the 507 should run through to at least Roncesvalles to provide guaranteed service beyond Sunnyside and to give 507 riders a chance to connect with both the 504 and the 501. I have proposed various schemes for reorganizing the west end streetcar services, but the TTC has focussed on proving that the amalgamation of the 501 and 507, now nearly 20 years old, wasn’t a big mistake in the first place.


  4. Steve wrote:
    “The entire SAC system is going to be cancelled because of cost”

    I wonder if this rumour emerged in response to cost pressures resulting from paying operators and collectors who are eligible for retirement upwards of $1000 extra per month to forestall retirements (and resulting labour shortages). Sounds like a good short term reaction to poor planning for labour demand.


  5. If the 507 does return, its eastern terminal should not be the Humber Loop. If there is a problem with the 501, the passengers would be almost isolated there since the 66A Prince Edward would not be able to accommodate the crowds from the 507 (if there was a “next streetcar” display at the loop) as an alternative route.
    Instead, the 507 should terminate either at Roncesvalles and King or at the Dundas West subway station, up Roncesvalles and Dundas. That way there are several alternative routings available (again if there could be “next streetcar” displays at that intersection).


  6. Well, by the time they make the change/decision in February, it will be on time for the JANUARY service changes posting, since last Sunday’s changes are nowhere to be seen on the TTC Website. Same old, same old.


  7. As long as it is “their” idea then the Long branch car will return. If on the other hand riders suggest something, forget about it! I agree it should run to/from Roncy not Humber Loop.


  8. David Cavlovic wrote: “Well, by the time they make the change/decision in February, it will be on time for the JANUARY service changes posting, since last Sunday’s changes are nowhere to be seen on the TTC Website.”

    You’re not looking hard enough. They’ve been up since Friday at least.

    Toronto, Ont.


  9. I haven’t been through Humber loop area in ages … what is there to do in the Humber loop area? (I will assume that the loop is named after the river which is kind of near by and not the College on Kipling/Lakeshore or Hwy. 27/Finch). The 507 should go to the Roncesvalles area. It meets two routes and the garage.

    How can we “trust” the ttc to make correct decisions? I suffered through living in the Neville Park loop area needing to go to Long Branch area (this was through a bad time in my financial life), does anyone realize how painful it was to wait for another streetcar that went to long branch?

    Forget the fact that someone at the TTC does not know how to count

    As you can see in the main map it says:
    1 2 3
    3 5 6

    There is no 4, but alas there is an explanation for map #4.

    Also I boarded the Y-U-S subway at Queen Station as I was not aware of the exact location of the station at University and King …

    King Station: 3 King Street
    St. Andrew: 173 King Street East.

    http://i41.tinypic.com/52gas3.jpg <— Photo I took of the map on top of the doorway.

    It is so confusing sometimes, can you help me out Steve (on finding out the proper address on St. Andrew station.

    You should make a post on ttc bloopers.

    Steve: It would take a website of its own to document all of the foulups with signage and public info scattered around the TTC. Others have taken on this burden.

    If you use Google Maps, you will find that 173 King West is just west of University, and I suspect that we simply have a typo with “east” for “west” on the map address for St. Andrew’s.

    Humber Loop, for those who have not been there, is actually a double loop. One loop allows Queen cars to return east, while the other was for Long Branch cars to return west when this was a separate line. The loop became rather seedy, a hangout for the sort of folks who make people waiting for transfer connections uncomfortable. That was one reason cited for through routing the two streetcar routes, although nobody ever explained what the (less numerous) patrons of the Prince Edward and Queensway buses were supposed to do.

    The Long Branch side of the loop has not been used much of late, and if service on the 507 were resurrected, it would probably need to be tidied up a bit.

    The original Humber Loop was on Lake Shore Blvd. at the Humber River. When the area was rebuilt with the Gardiner Expressway and the new streetcar right-of-way on The Queensway, the loop was moved west and north to its present location, but retained the name.

    There are photos of the original loop and much more on the City Archives site.

    Humber Loop

    Waiting Shelter

    The loop site before construction.

    Lake Shore and Ellis looking west. Ellis Avenue is the west side of Grenadier Pond.

    This photo looks west in the same general area in winter.

    Looking east toward Sunnyside. Clearly visible are St. Joseph’s Hospital and some of the buildings still standing along the waterfront.

    Looking east to the Humber bridge on Lake Shore.

    Another view looking east to the Humber bridge from a bit further west.

    A view to the bridge from the east. This would have been just west of the original Humber Loop.

    The view to the west was a bit more run down. This location is full of condos today.

    Looking east on Lake Shore east of Humber Loop.

    Looking west on Lake Shore near Mimico Creek (close to the proposed Park Lawn Loop).

    Looking west on Lake Shore at Louisa. There is a large condo on the south side of the road now where the forest in this picture appears.

    Hillside Wye under construction. Note the absence of trees in hte neighbourhood. New parts of Leaside looked like this when they were brand new in the 50s.

    Looking east on Lake Shore near 18th (now Kipling). Note the fence of the Lake Shore Psychiatric Hospital on the south side, and the water tower of the Goodyear plant in the background.

    The same location looking west.

    Long Branch Loop. The waiting shelter should look familiar.

    Long Branch Loop again, this time from the east.


  10. Steve, the loop you show as the previous Humber Loop was in fact not the one replaced. A short history:

    Humber Loop #1, often called Jane Loop incorrectly, mostly by newspapers, was farther east and the cars did not cross the river but snuggled up against the T&YRR PRW just east. It operated from July 26 1922 to July 29 1931.

    Humber Loop #2 is the one you’ve kindly illustrated, sometimes called Middle Road Loop (data per Ray Corley, many years ago) and was in use until September 12, 1939 when it was closed to facilitate construction of the QEW.

    Humber Loop #3 was in the middle of the entrance to the QEW and in fact cars travelled within a short reservation in the Queen Elizabeth Way itself to attain it. That loop did not open until July 11, 1940 (all QUEEN cars looped at Parkside Loop on Lake Shore Rd in the interval, or short turned at Sunnyside Loop) and operated in original configuration until July 1, 1954 when a new loop (Humber #3A. technically) for LONG BRANCH opened at the west side to facilitate zone fares. Both loops continued until July 20 1957.

    Humber Loop #4 (4A & 4B technically) of course opened July 21 1957 and, with the exception of the additional track on the easterly loop for MU service installed in 1967, is in use (4A) or buried in mud (4B) today.

    Steve: Thanks for this clarification!


  11. Mr. Bromley: I LOVED your book Fifty Years of Progressive Transit. That book helped to start my love for Transit.

    I guess there is no chance of the book being updated?

    Sorry about the post, Steve.


  12. Justin: You’re assuming that there has been “progress” in the intervening years. Based on what’s happened in Toronto transit over the past 35 years (or rather, didn’t happen), it looks like the next chapter is only getting started now. Take notes from this blog and other sources and start compiling … you could write the story of the next 25 years of progressive transit.


  13. Justin –

    Thanks for the compliment – at least I’ve directed one person into “the biz”. I have the raw data (for all local systems) for route operations and roster in the computer, from 1861 up to 2000 (selected bits after), but I have no intention of publishing it. The computer files would run to several thousand pages, if printed. I use it only as a reference when something needs correcting, or explaning. There is much data published that has huge holes and inadvertent mis-information (including “50 Years”, and it would take too much of my personal time to go around correcting everything that sits out there written by others. At least when they toss me into the furnace (that’s waaaay down the road), the data will survive.

    Steve, you may wish to cut this off at the knees so folks don’t get distracted. (Pleeease).


  14. Steve, how long would take to get this “4b” loop running once more, since its buried in mud and grass at this point? I presume the tracks are still usable?

    Steve: Cleaning them off is easy. The question is what condition the foundation under them is in and whether cars can safely go around the loop. It hasn’t been too long, considering that others reported attempts to run a 507 shuttle that used this track within the past year.


  15. Apparently news of the Queen car’s vagaries has reached far into eastern Ontario. Someone from Brighton Ontario wrote to the Editor of the Globe and Mail, apropos the financial industry pundits’ pontificating methods:

    “publishers of market charts will admit they base their prognostications on counting the intervals between street cars on Toronto’s Queen Street line (A double-bottom occurs when two cars, the first full and the second empty, come along at the same time and neither stops)”


    You need to get those late-2008 CIS charts and go into business as a financial forecaster! Alas, I suspect a number of triple-bottoms, quadruple-bottoms, and so on.


  16. Steve,

    John Bromley can answer as well…

    What happened to the Humber loops 1-3 (a/b)? are they still there or were they removed?

    What is the loop called that is around that light house (509/511) near lakeshore. I don’t mean the CNE/EX loop that is the end of the 509/511 routes.

    Steve: All previous Humber Loops are gone. The loop around the lighthouse is Fleet Loop (named after Fleet Street), and the building itself is called the Queen’s Wharf lighthouse. The wharf was roughly at the south end of what is now Bathurst Street, but you have to remember that much of the land in that area today was once part of the lake. The lighthouse was moved west and south to its present location when it was no longer needed because of the landfill projects.


  17. I would like to further what darwin says, I see operators pulling into the long branch loop from time to time on their layovers, I believe the TTC has deemed it somewhat of a storage track, much like neville where streetcars can park but where passengers cannot board.


  18. A bit of clarification steve, what I intended to say was the humber loop intended for use by 507 long branch cars turning back west has turned into somewhat of a storage track for cars on their layovers and such, much like Neville where streetcars can park but where passengers cannot board.


  19. Thanks for those archive photos Steve, they’re fantastic. I live in S. Etobicoke and its great to see how it was. Especially love that Humber Bridge looking East…

    As to your OP, everythings been said – split the line, terminus at Ronc., etc. etc…


  20. The old Queen Street/Queensway railway underpass is still there west of the Humber River and east of the loop.


  21. About the first Humber Bridge photo – did the City of Toronto really have a population of nearly 780,000 in the late 1920s? And this not counting Forest Hill and Swansea – but hey, wouldn’t the bridge have been the boundary between Mimico and Swansea, not Toronto, in those days?

    Anyway, growing up in Metro Toronto in the 1960s-70s I seem to remember the CoT population being somewhere in the upper 600K range. Did it drop that significantly from the 20s to the 60s? Or is the sign there including some other parts like York, Weston, East York, Leaside etc?

    Steve: In the “fine print” on the sign, it says “Greater Toronto”. In the best tradition of municipalities inflating their importance, they are counting at least what we now know as the 416, possibly more.


  22. SAC boys may be back at Russell, but they are nowhere to be seen at Neville for at least a week.
    How do you tell? Well, you may think they would climb on a 501 at Russell and go to Neville by streetcar, but no, they all drive and park their personal cars in or near the edges of the loop! (and yes, they do this even in the warmer weather)


  23. Expanding on Pete Coulman’s comment; I had a chat a month or so ago with some operators at the front of a subway train from Royal York to Yonge, and the selection process for people like route managers (I’m guessing it may be the same story with SAC) is entirely based on who you know and whether you have a PhD in a field that is as far separated from transit as possible. These people are very unfamiliar with the system because they never worked through the ranks and likely never ride the system either. They said that anybody that’s been an operator for six months could be a route manager. They’ve got big problems with route managers as a result (obviously bad for morale).

    Steve: Yes, the person I saw surveying the behaviour of the Queen car was clearly a junior employee, and from the conversation was more interested in working their way up the ladder into management than driving streetcars. The TTC has a big problem if they recruit from the ranks of the wannabees rather than those who know how routes actually work.


  24. “Pete Coulman Says:

    January 11th, 2009 at 3:29 pm
    SAC boys may be back at Russell, but they are nowhere to be seen at Neville for at least a week.
    How do you tell? Well, you may think they would climb on a 501 at Russell and go to Neville by streetcar, but no, they all drive and park their personal cars in or near the edges of the loop! (and yes, they do this even in the warmer weather)”

    Just to clear things up for Pete. The SAC operators do take over all streetcars at Russell starting around 9am daily. The person sitting in a car at Neville Loop is the SAC dispatch supervisor. You then have 2 SAC supervisors at Russell, one puts the SAC operator on the streetcars and other puts the regular Queen operators back onto streetcars. Remember they usually take over a new streetcar each trip to Neville due to step forward policy.


  25. Steve wrote:

    The Long Branch side of the loop has not been used much of late, and if service on the 507 were resurrected, it would probably need to be tidied up a bit.

    Actually the loop was used in late 2007 when the TTC had several extra cars and drivers due to the work on St. Clair Ave. The TTC operated some pseudo 507 cars between Long Branch and Humber. I have posted pictures over at the Transit Toronto Yahoo group, but here they are you people over here:


    You can see both loops being used here:

    And here is a shot of three streetcars, one in each loop, and one doing a run through:

    And finally, a nice side shot of a CLRV in the loop for the 507:


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