Trial Split of 501 Queen Car (Updated)

Updated October 22 at 10:25 am:

Brad Ross, TTC’s Director of Corporate Communications, advises that effective 9:30 am today all Queen operators will carry passengers around the Shaw/Dufferin and Parliament/Broadview loops, and tell passengers of the layover that may occur.

Also, for those who like to know the internal trivia, the east and west ends of the route are known as “500” and “507” respectively so that they can be scheduled and managed independently.

Original post:

Today, the TTC begins a five-week test of operating the Queen car in two overlapping sections, weekdays only.

  • East end cars will operate between Neville and Shaw, looping via Shaw, King and Dufferin.
  • West end cars will operate between Long Branch or Humber (alternate cars) and Parliament, looping via Parliament, Dundas and Broadview.

Without rehashing many previous posts on this topic, here is a preliminary look at the issues:

  • The design of the overlapped routes may not be ideal, and I hope that it will work well enough that TTC staff don’t reject any alternative arrangements.  Part of the problem is a tradeoff between the number of cars and operators available and the amount of additional service on the route.  A long term arrangement may require a different route configuration and/or even more service.
  • Scheduled service to the outer ends of the line has been cut to provide for the overlap.  The premise is that with more reliable headways and fewer short turns, the actual service provided to Neville and Long Branch will be better than on the unified route.  However, the AM peak is not, for the most part, affected by congestion and short turns were comparatively rare.  Will the reduced service be able to handle demand outside of the overlapped section downtown?
  • Overlapped TTC services have a long history of badly managed integration.  This can be seen with the  behaviour of 502 Downtowner cars that often pull out from McCaul or Kingston Road right behind a 501 Queen and carry as few passengers as possible.  How many times will we see pairs of east and west end cars travel across the central part of Queen together?
  • Both turnbacks involve on-street loops.  Cars waiting for their scheduled departure times may be pushed out by other services, or may simply create congestion of their own while laying over in the middle of the street.
  • On the brighter side, both scheduled turnbacks are  far enough away from Yonge Street that even a short turn (say westbound at Bathurst or eastbound at Church) will maintain service in the heart of downtown.

With shorter routes, the need for recovery time should be reduced as operators won’t face a 90-minute more trip between termini.  For the east end service, recovery times are no more than 4 minutes (peak periods). 

In the west end, recovery times are longer, but these are mainly intended to make the schedule merge at Humber work properly — the difference between Humber and Long Branch trip times must always be a multiple of the headway.  For example, in the early evening, the Long Branch cars get 13 minutes “recovery” so that their round trips differ by one hour (four times the 15-minute headway) from the Humber cars.  Later in the evening, the difference in round trips is only 38 minutes (two times the 19-minute headway), and the Long Branch runs get only 4 minutes recovery.

This thread is intended as a repository for observations and comments about the split route operation, and I am particularly interested in hearing from regular users of the Queen car on their day-to-day experiences.

I have asked the TTC for their vehicle monitoring data for the months of October and November for the 501 and will publish an analyses of route behaviour comparing the unified and split operations.