Queen Car Route Split Effective October 19, 2009

Starting on October 19, 2009, the TTC will experiment with splitting the 501 Queen route into two segments on weekdays only.  The intention is to decouple the outer ends of the line from events that occur on the opposite side of the city, and to provide sufficient flexibility that short turns should not interfere with riders’ ability to use the service.

This will be a trial operation lasting only for the October schedule period (roughly six weeks).  Seven cars will be added to the route during peak periods, with between five and eight additional at other times.  Weekend service is not affected, nor is the operation of the 502/503 routes on Kingston Road.

Two separate services will operate:

  • Neville Loop to Dufferin, looping in the west via Shaw, King and Dufferin.
  • Long Branch Loop and Humber Loop to Broadview, looping in the east via Parliament, Dundas and Broadview.

The eastern route will operate from Russell Division, and the western one from Roncesvalles.  This will eliminate crewing complexities with cars and operators switching between divisions.

Overnight service on the 301 Queen car will be split in the same manner, but cars will be scheduled to connect.  This arrangement will result in scheduled pairs of cars on the common section, a rather odd configuration.

The Neville-Dufferin branch will operate with the following headways:

  • AM Peak: 7’15”
  • Midday: 7’30”
  • PM Peak:  7’15”
  • Early Evening: 8’00”
  • Late Evening:  9’30”

The Humber-Broadview branch will operate with the following headways (service to Long Branch in parentheses):

  • AM Peak: 5’30” (11′)
  • Midday:  6’15” (12’30”)
  • PM Peak:  6’30” (13′)
  • Early Evening: 7’30” (15′)
  • Late Evening: 9’30” (19′)

By comparison, scheduled service for September 2009 is:

  • AM Peak: 5’10” (10’20”)
  • Midday: 5’53” (11’45”)
  • PM Peak: 5’40” (11’20”)
  • Early Evening: 6’45” (13’30”)
  • Late Evening: 10′ (20′)

If the new service is closer to schedule than the old one, then service should be improved even though scheduled headways on the outer ends of the route are slightly wider.  

Headways on the two halves of the route are, except for the overnight operation, different and there is no attempt to produce a blended operation in the central part of the route.  It will be interesting to see how many cars run in pairs by coming out of Dufferin or Broadview immediately behind a through car.  This is a challenge for TTC line management, and could defeat the benefit of the overlapped service between Broadview and Dufferin.

The considerable overlap of the two routes provides continuity even if either of them needs to be short turned.  Westbound cars from Neville could short turn at Bathurst or at McCaul while still serving downtown and connecting with the through service to the west end.  Eastbound cars from Humber could short turn at Church.  A shorter overlap would have almost guaranteed that many cars would never serve the major downtown stops or connect with their counterparts for through service.

Although all cars will pass through the congested section between University and Bathurst, short turns will be possible without eliminating connections, and the need for short turns at the outer ends of the line should be reduced.  This will bear watching.

18 thoughts on “Queen Car Route Split Effective October 19, 2009

  1. Why split the night car as well? I mean, even when the the Queen and Long Branch cars operated as separate routes, the combined Queen night car worked.

    And I still think that Long Branch needs to be given its own route, possibly to Dundas West station. Those headways out there are shameful, and we need to replace the ALRVs with CLRVs for that section. Maybe a swap between 504 King and Queen West would work. Or maybe run two additional CLRVs as extras.

    The downtown arrangement appears to work. As you note, cars can be short turned without losing service to both subway stops. We really need to build that Queen/Broadview loop, though, don’t we? And would a terminus at Dufferin Loop make sense at this point? If nothing else, it adds service to Liberty Village.


  2. Steve:

    I think you are saying the “outer” ends of the route (Dufferin or Broadview) can only be reached after the loop. That would add to travel times and really mean that effectively the Eastern service only goes to Shaw and the Western Service only goes to Parliament. One of the major irritants (for me) of TTC service is lack of stops on detours, or in this case loops. I hope to be able to catch the 501 in the Shaw and Queen to Dufferin and Queen portion of the route as I am sure is the case for those on Parliament or Broadview for the corresponding westbound service.

    Steve: I hope that the TTC has the good sense not to run the cars express around the portions of the loop off of Queen.


  3. petty… but will roll signs simply show Dufferin & Broadview as end points…

    might be irritating for people to think another neville or long branch car is on its way….

    Steve: Actually, they will show Shaw and Parliament, the points where the cars turn off of Queen Street. Based on past behaviour with diversions, it won’t take people long to learn that they have direct service to the “off route” locations.

    Riders will have to learn to get on whatever shows up if they are on the outer parts of the line. Indeed, that’s a good policy in many cases anyhow.


  4. also… making a note on michael’s comment about potential out of service runs through the downtown loops…

    would it not have made more sense to send the Dufferin car through to Dufferin itself, and then use the loop at the ex?

    unless part of the goal is to alleviate some of the congestion on King…

    Steve: I believe that there are problems with the track on Dufferin south of King. Also, this avoids the difficult left turn at Queen and Dufferin. This will be simpler once Dufferin runs through north-south and there are fewer vehicles making this turn, but that won’t happen in time for this October.


  5. While I can appreciate the additional length of the route created, I would have liked to see the Exhibition West loop used instead of the on-street loop. It ensures bidirectional service between Queen and Dufferin for the east branch, it is simpler for riders to understand, and there’s even facilities at the loop for staff.

    James raises an interesting point about comparison to King. The west branch of the Queen split is longer than the 508 run (assuming Parliament and King as the point where it goes out of service). This brings the discussion back around to an old topic of making the 508 a regular (or semi-regular) route rather than a tripper service.

    Steve: See previous comment re use of Dufferin Loop. As you know, I have written at length about a complete reorganization of the 501, 504 and 508 services, and the 508 really doesn’t make sense as a separate route given its infrequency and unreliable arrival times. The cars would be better used as part of a “base” route.

    By the way, at times, the 508 cars eastbound have operated to Parliament, turned north and become 506 trippers westbound to handle traffic bound for UofT.


  6. Let’s hope the “split” works to improve the 501 service reliability.

    One thought: with 501 being split, what is the point of turning half of the western service at Humber Loop off-peak? During the AM and PM rush, the Humber Loop short branch is probably needed for the load management. But off-peak, they should have enough cars to run all service to Long Branch, maintaining headways in the range of 8′ or 10′.

    I agree that keeping a separate 508 rush-hour route makes little sense, especially with the new 145 Humber Bay express bus (which will have a very similar function but run faster). Either they should have accepted Steve’s routing scheme and run all Long Branch service as 508, or if they keep Long Branch service on Queen, should redeploy the 508 cars to attain better frequency on the main route.


  7. Steve:

    Sometimes “good sense” is seriously lacking on the TTC. When the Ossington Bus was diverted from the corner of Shaw & Queen until the corner of College & Ossington via Shaw (between Queen & Dundas) Dundas, Bathurst and College (back to Ossington) I tried to get off at College and Grace. The bus was stopped at a red light beside the streetcar stop at Grace, but the driver insisted that buses on “diversion” do not stop and would not let me off. I had to go to Ossington and take the Carlton Car back to Grace. This was total nonsense, but unfortunately, that is sometimes the way the TTC does things.


  8. Hello Steve:
    What ever happened to Parklawn Loop? Is it canceled?

    Steve: I will ask and report back. A lot of the TTC’s track projects seem to have come off the rails this year.


  9. This arrangement is fine for an experiment – but neither loop seems great if this becomes the solution.

    In the east the Cherry street loop would be perfect – if it weren’t for the lack of track for the 150 metres of Sumach between King and Queen.

    Steve: Sumach is rather narrow for this, but it does make an intriguing alternative for the future if this became a permanent arrangement. By the way, there is no guarantee that Cherry Street Loop will last forever and it may only be a temporary terminal until the Queen’s Quay to Cherry connection is completed.

    In the west … why aren’t they using Wolseley loop? It’s further from Yonge than Parliament is. If it’s not currently up to it, can it be upgraded?

    Steve: The problem here is that it’s a small loop with no room for expansion, and the turns at Bathurst and Queen are fraught with traffic congestion. Also, there’s a fair amount of traffic originating in the east end that goes west of McCaul. If Wolseley were the terminus, a lot of cars wouldn’t get past McCaul Loop (that’s exactly what happened in the days when the 502 was scheduled to run to Wolseley).

    Also, don’t forget that cars turning up Parliament go east to Broadview. This is 2.5km as compared with 4.1 to Dufferin. By the way, Google Maps tells me that I can drive from Dufferin to Yonge in “about 6 minutes”!

    Also the use of the ALRVs on Queen makes less sense with this configuration. More ammunition for moving them to King and increasing the frequency of the Queen service.

    Steve: I concur, although in the long run with the new Flexities, we will have to revisit the whole question of which vehicle to use on which route during a long transition period.


  10. With the opening of the Dufferin tunnel and subsequent renovations to Gladstone and Peel the TTC has an opportunity to put in a streetcar loop there. It would be much better than the long one way loop via Shaw, if the split proves effective.


  11. If this works, I wonder if they will split the route number as well.

    And, if this works and it becomes permanent, will they investigate shortening the loops. In the west, for example, if using Dufferin Loop is impractical, they could look at re-installing Crawford Loop, and send the cars from the east down Shaw. In the east end, instead of a long Parliament looping, they could either look at reinstalling the loop at Parliament and King (or have I been gone long and this land already developed?), or even install a counter-clockwise on street looping at River St, similar to Lansdowne Loop. In fact, in order to avoid blocking traffic from trying to get onto the Bayview Extension, the track could be on the far east side of River, making for an almost off-street loop. I can see this loop being useful also for King cars.

    Steve: Dufferin Loop is practical once they fix the track south of King. Crawford Loop is intriguing, although the locals in what is now a residential neighbourhood would likely complain about noise. The idea of a River Street connection has been proposed before and rejected because the intersection (particularly at Queen) is on a grade. Turns should be on level ground to ensure that the forces between the wheels and track behave as expected. Parliament Loop is no longer available.

    I think that we can await any decision on a permanent arrangement before debating the fine details of what additional track might be useful.


  12. A week or two ago it occurred to me that the split/overlapping route was a recipe for bunching streetcars. Consider that Neville-bound streetcars will be starting empty from Dufferin (only needing to stop to pick up passengers), behind streetcars that will have already picked up a decent load from points west (needing to stop to pick up and drop off passengers — longer dwell times and higher likelihood of having to stop).

    And now I see that the average headways are slightly different on the two branches, which virtually guarantees bunching. Why not run the same headways on the two branches and at least try to run things evenly?

    Steve: Running the same headway takes more cars and still does not guarantee bunching. A Neville car can lurk on Dufferin and go east right behind a through car from further west. This is similar to what happens with 502 Downtowner cars that slip in right behind 501 Queen cars to do as little work as possible. (This can even happen with Humber cars pulling out right behind a Long Branch on the inbound trip.)

    The real issue is that someone needs to actively manage the blending of service so that cars are as evenly spaced as is reasonable given the different headways. If two cars are there together, the empty one should go first.


  13. I will not personally be holding my breath. I am not sure what people from the beaches will be saying, but I don’t like the western split. Why have cars short turning at Neville during that the day, especially as the old 507 loop will not be used? Also, Parliament is way too far east for the western section – I just hope it does not cause too many problems.

    My alternative would be to split the line (perhaps as James already suggested, by running the western potion to Dundas), with better service on the 508. According to the TTC’s own records, as presented back in May to those out to hear about the WWLRT), 85% percent of users along the Lake Shore take the 501 downtown during the rush hour – this is something that could be handled by the western portion going to Dundas West (direct access to the subway) AND the 508 going downtown via King (this could potentially allow some 504 cars to be short turned at Sunnyside instead of going up to Dundas West station.)

    During the day, when this split is to occur, most of the passengers along the Lake Shore use the car for local transportation. This is according to the TTC – not me. Thus, we need a streetcar that can acctually provide reasonable service, and I am sorry but Parliament (and short turns at Humber) simply does not seem to be the answer in my opinion.

    I will keep my fingers crossed that this all works out.

    Steve: As I have written elsewhere in this thread, there is a fighting chance for reasonable service west of Humber provided that the TTC does a decent job of managing the service downtown. Eastbound cars bound for the Parliament/Broadview loop can be short turned at Church and return westbound while still serving the major stops from Yonge to Spadina. They should not need to be short turned at Kipling, or worse, Humber. We shall see what actually happens come mid-October.


  14. I drove along King wb to Dufferin and then went north to Queen at 9:00 p. m. This trip on Dufferin took over 5 minutes because of the construction. I hope that they have this improved before they start the split route trial. Why is this trial only for one board period? The test should be for at least 3 board periods so we can have an idea if it will work before we eliminate the change. I don’t think that the passengers will be happy if it ends after 1 month.

    I was at the Eglinton LRT meeting about their choice of route into the airport. The reasons for their choice was not obvious from their web site but the explanation at the meeting made sense. Too bad that they could not put it into their web site.


  15. I find it unusual for the TTC to be relying on such large loopings at Broadview and Dufferin. Why not use the loops at Russell and Roncesvalles instead?

    Steve: Because these loops would make an even longer overlap area and push up the total number of cars needed substantially.


  16. If this split were to become permanent, then it would make sense for the TTC to adopt different route numbers as streetcars don’t really do the whole branch thing. The only thing that might become a problem is the huge volume of streetcars turning on and off of Broadview.

    Steve: The turns at Broadview would be south to west, and these are comparatively easy. I remember in the 60s seeing streetcars backed up from Broadview west to the Don Bridge because there were so many King cars turning north.


  17. Jonathon Markowski says:
    September 13, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    “If this split were to become permanent, then it would make sense for the TTC to adopt different route numbers as streetcars don’t really do the whole branch thing. The only thing that might become a problem is the huge volume of streetcars turning on and off of Broadview.”

    I think that this is a good idea. I believe that the number 507 is available. If the TTC doesn’t like having such a high number for their Queen of a route then they could use 500, but this might make the Beach people unhappy as they would no longer have the ranking route number.


  18. Hi Steve,

    I live at the intersection of King and Shaw. This intersection became very dangerous during the trial period. A vehicle heading Westbound and turning left at Shaw cannot see around the street car and places the driver and passengers in danger of oncoming traffic.

    In addition, the honking vehicles and bell ringing/honking street cars along with the screeching of the turning street car wheels increases the noise pollution of the intersection. A peaceful intersection has now become a hostile environment.

    If this idea is to go forward, there will definitely have to be some changes to be made for people’s safety and the environment around them.


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