The Queen Car is Fine as it Is, Thank You (Updated)

The TTC agenda for May 6 includes a report on the proposed restructuring of route 501 Queen in two optional ways:

  • Return to the old setup with a separate 507 Long Branch service west of Humber Loop, or
  • Operate a 507 service to Dundas West Station overlapping 501 Queen service between Humber and Roncesvalles.

Needless to say, TTC staff recommend against any changes.

The Humber option never made sense because:

  • The connection at Humber Loop is in an isolated location where passengers do not feel secure, especially at off hours, and
  • Short turns of 501 Queen cars at Sunnyside leave a gap in the route and cause highly unpredictable travel times for passengers trying to transfer between the 501 and 507 in either direction.

Since the construction of much new development on The Queensway, the provision of reliable service is more important than ever.

The Dundas West option is designed to address several problems, none of which are addressed by the TTC report:

  • Move the transfer point east from Humber Loop to Roncesvalles.
  • Provide additional service on The Queensway that is not affected by short-turns further east.
  • Provide additional service on Roncesvalles to partly compensate for the frequent short-turning of 504 King cars (once that route returns to its normal configuration).

The TTC report lists many favourable aspects of the 507 Dundas West option:

  • The restored 507 route would operate with CLRVs freeing up five ALRVs for use on the 504 King route.  This is the equivalent of adding 2.5 CLRVs worth of capacity to the 504 in the peak period, but no value is attached to this by the TTC.
  • Service would be improved between Humber and Roncesvalles, and between Queen and Bloor on Ronces.  This is stated relative to the scheduled service, but a good deal of this service never actually reaches the terminals especially when there are disruptions downtown.  Nearly 10,000 trips per day would benefit from these improvements.
  • A small number of trips between Lake Shore Blvd. and the Bloor/Dundas area would have one less transfer.
  • The TTC does not mention the benefit of reliable service on Lake Shore, the value this would have in reduced wait times for riders there, and increased riding that could result.

On the down side, the TTC claims:

  • About 2,500 trips per day that travel from points east of Roncesvalles to west of Humber Loop would be inconvenienced by this arrangement, an that about 300 rides per day would be lost due to this change.  When I first proposed the 507 Dundas West service, the scheme included improved service on the 508 specifically to preserve through trip options.  This was not included in the scheme the TTC reviewed.
  • There would be little benefit for the Neville-Humber service because the west end of the line is not a source of congestion and service disruption.  This is exactly the reason for splitting off the 507 service so that it can benefit from the relatively trouble-free environment.  Also, with the 501 service having shorter trips, operators would not be faced with interminable runs across the city before they get a break. 
  • The TTC claims that sharing the platform at Dundas West between the 504 and 507 services could cause delays similar to what happened when the Dundas and King routes shared a common track.  I beg to differ.  First, the 507 service is less frequent, and there is a runaround track available if a 507 is so early arriving at Dundas West that it would hold a King car from leaving.

After all of this, the report concludes that “overall, the change would make service better for customers”.

However, the TTC rejects the scheme because it is estimated to have a marginal cost of about $825k annually.  As mentioned above, they give no credit for the value of the additional capacity provided on the King line by reassignment of equipment nor for the ridership effect of more reliable service.  Indeed, the only ridership change the TTC cites is the potential loss of 300 rides per day from the loss of a transfer-free trip through Humber Loop.

In discussing the route’s history, the TTC states that the amalgamation in 1995 was intended to eliminate the transfer at Humber.  What they omit is that this change was made primarily to reduce operating costs.  The decline in service quality west of Humber has long been a complaint from the community, and it is a direct result of the restructuring coupled with general service cutbacks on streetcar routes through the 1990s.

The report includes a chart showing ridership declines on the route, and the TTC argues that the fall occurred before the routes were amalgamated due to declining employment.  The TTC neglects to mention a large cut in service on the Long Branch car in the early 1990s that drove away riding even before the route’s amalgamation with the Queen car.

An important note about the Long Branch route, something evident in a previous TTC report on the subject and to anyone who rides the line, is that there is considerable local demand that never gets east of Humber Loop.  Service that is managed (and short turned) on the basis of somewhat empty vehicles at Roncesvalles will short-change riders who don’t board until west of Humber.  This is particularly so during off-peak periods.

The TTC report is self-serving with selective analysis intended to put their preferred option, do nothing, in the best possible light.

At a minimum, the TTC needs to carry out a trial operation of the 507 Dundas West option following restorarion of streetcar service on Roncesvalles late in 2010.  This trial needs to run long enough to allow meaningful analysis.  A related service change should be improvement of the 508 Lake Shore route to provide more through peak period trips to and from downtown via King Street.

49 thoughts on “The Queen Car is Fine as it Is, Thank You (Updated)

  1. Except for you saving the streetcar system from oblivion (which I’m sure you’ve been damned to transit Hell) has there ever been a service proposal that you have espoused that has ever been accepted — and credited to you?


  2. How did they conclude that such a high number of customers would abandon the service because of the necessary transfer? The more important question is how many more people already abandoned the service because it was so erratic? (Hint – look at the ridership figures chart on page three of the report.) Even factoring in potential losses, have they forgotten the term “net gain”?

    Also, the maps on the last page of the report feature the typo “Victorai Park”. Perhaps they should check things like that along with FACTS.


  3. “Needless to say, TTC staff recommend against any changes.”

    How many of these staff members live in Toronto? Of those that do, how many of them live on Lake Shore Blvd West or Roncesvalles Avenue? Of those that live on those streets, how many take the streetcar into work? Recommending against changes which, without a shadow of a doubt, are absolutely needed is quite frankly insane.

    To claim the returning the old 507 would make service worse for riders is non-sense. To have unreliable service made more reliable is a service improvement, not a worsen of service. Granted, using the TTC’s points system, a transfer is MUCH worse than waiting forever for a streetcar, only to have a set of 3 arrive.

    As for the argument that a Long Branch – Dundas West Stn via Roncesvalles streetcar would decrease ridership is also non-sense. How can staff say that without even a trial period? Do a trial using buses, or streetcars after reconstruction on Roncesvalles finishes, for one board period. If the TTC advertises it well, people will come.

    From my perspective, this is mere stalling against change by management.


  4. What is the impact (If any) of this report.

    Steve: The report perpetuates management’s inability to admit that they screwed up the Queen and Long Branch services years ago.


  5. Well, it was pretty obvious the Queen experiment was set up to fail, just like to old Y. By the way, I understand the TTC is reactivating the Y again this Victoria Day weekend. Why are they doing this?

    Steve: You may also have noticed that there has been a slow order on the crossover east of St. George Lower station, and they are getting ready to replace special work here. The diversion provides a weekend when work on that crossover can take place uninterrupted in the same manner as the repairs done a few years ago to the tunnel a bit further east.


  6. Roncesvalles has been fixed (paved) but there are no tracks on it.

    Which is something I find stupid as they will have to tear the road apart AGAIN to install the tracks up from King/Queen to Dundas West Station.

    This is something I saw about a month ago, I doubt they installed them so quickly. Yeah for the TTC not making me look like a jackass.


  7. I always got to hear about the dubious service on Roncesvalles from my mother’s shopping trips, usually going something like this. “The streetcar service on Roncesvalles – what’s going on? Seven streetcars for Dundas [505] came and went before there was one for King [504] and then it was so crowded because there were a lot of people waiting, and a lot of them were kind of upset they were waiting so long.” I’ve heard variations of this so many times – totally unscientific, but when an infrequent trip is recalled this way so often, one has to conclude that it’s a fairly regular occurrence.


  8. A few years back I had a trip pattern that took the 501 westbound to Roncesvalles and then the 504 north to Bloor. This was always in the evening shortly after the PM rush. It quickly became apparent that almost none of the scheduled service on the 504 was making it onto Roncesvalles at this time. I got in the habit of walking north and getting on a car if it came along. Many times I made it all the way to Bloor without seeing a 504 car in EITHER direction and still none in sight coming from the south.

    The near-clockwork reliability and frequency of the current replacement shuttle bus highlights the difference made by isolating the downtown traffic problems. But even the streetcars that are all looping via the yard seem to be faring much better on their shorter route. It is a totally different world right now. I dread the restoration of the normal 504 to Roncesvalles because the service will very frequently never make it there. And despite assurances to the contrary, the new, longer streetcars will make the situation far worse than it is now, although it really can’t get much worse at some times of the day.


  9. My favorite line in the TTC report:

    “A shorter Neville Park – Humber route might improve service reliability.”

    Methinks any village’s idiot would find it obvious definite service improvements would result from a shortening of the ridiculously long 501 route.

    Steve: It is possible that the TTC does not employ Village Idiots to plan and operate their system.


  10. While I generally disagree with the recommendation of leaving the Queen route as-is, I would play Devil’s Advocate on one issue; Dundas West Station Loop.

    Nowhere in the network do 3 routes share a single loop facility. The current maximum anywhere in the TTC system is 2 routes sharing any single loop facility. A route structure that sees 3 routes sharing a loop facility, while I agree with Steve’s argument that the infrastructure itself is capable of handling it, requires a great deal cooperation between ATU113 and Management that I am not convinced is there. The route management along Queen East between King East and Kingston Road, the only stretch of the streetcar network shared by 3 routes (and 4 between Broadview and King East) leaves something to be desired. This stretch is not only devoid of loops excluding Russell, but is also perfectly straight. Can they handle the more complicated challenge of 3 routes through a loop facility?

    It might make more sense to consider other alternatives that simplify route structures, because the principle of KISS is paramount with the elements involved here.

    For example, a separate “507” Ronces car to Dufferin Loop, with a full-time 508 to Parliament (extended to Cherry when built), 501 to Humber, and the 504 truncated to Sunnyside. All have some overlap and short turn points available that don’t totally screw up service in the west end, and no more than 2 routes occupy any given loop. It also allows better control over the different service demands along Broadview, King, and Ronces.

    Steve: I might agree with your point about three routes except for the fact that so little 504 service actually reaches Dundas West Station. Bluntly, if we have reached the point where a route proposal is rejected because the TTC is incompetent to run it, we may as well shut the whole system down.

    There is also a serious problem (mentioned in a later comment) with the complete lack of signal priority for transit at Queen and Roncesvalles.


  11. If they are going to insist on not changing anything, isn’t the only realistic solution to simply increase the service on the 501 from Humber to Long Branch? I’m sure there would still be missing cars, and short-turns, but service would improve, and the TTC could then continue to run the entire thing as one service.

    Steve: Oddly enough, when the TTC considered the “Transit City Bus Plan” which would have put a ten minute headway on major bus routes, the Long Branch service was omitted because, wait for it, it’s not a bus. This is what passes for intelligent planning at the TTC. I understand that a revised version of the TCBP will come back soon to the Commission, and the 10-minute network will include all of the streetcar lines.

    Let’s see if “all” includes Lake Shore and Kingston Road.


  12. For better service, Lake Shore needs:

    1) more frequent streetcar service
    2) better managed streetcar service

    Although 1) will mitigate problems with 2) — streetcars running in bunches is more tolerable if the headway is five minutes instead of thirteen — we do need both.

    If the TTC was to do a fair comparison, between a proper level of service on the through Queen route versus a proper level of service on a Long Branch route, sure, let’s see the results.

    As it is, I’m guessing the TTC has neither operating streetcars, nor the operator headcount, to do either. So the results are either:
    1) do nothing (the status quo, as we see)
    2) do a doomed-to-fail Long Branch experiment (kind of like the Queen route split, which definitely had potential to improve things, but hey we can’t allow that)

    If we call for more frequent 508 service, something has to be done about the backup on King approaching Roncesvalles. Yes, some parts of King are quicker than some parts of Queen (and vice-versa). Sitting in a queue westbound in the afternoon peak is a waste of time. Yesterday I got off a King car at Wilson Park and walked to Roncesvalles, handily beating the streetcar I was on, as well as the one ahead of it, to Queen. One other person got off and did the same walk.

    One advantage the WWLRT would bring is avoiding the choke points on King (approaching Roncesvalles) and Queen (the Lansdowne/Jameson left turns and multi-way signals).

    Also, it would be worth asking the people who actually ride the Queen car on Lake Shore, and to and from Lake Shore, what they really want. Well, I’m sure that they’d all like more frequent service and more reliable service. What routing riders would prefer hasn’t, to my knowledge, been done in any systematic way.

    It’s one thing for existing riders to say “I’d rather have the routing to be Y than X”. It’s another thing for people who say “The Queen car? I never ride it! It sucks! I’d only ride if X was done” to be making up alternate routings.

    People actually riding the streetcar now are likely to continue riding the streetcar. People who say “I *would* ride the streetcar, *if only* it did X” may not actually ride the streetcar after it’s changed to suit their stated preferences. They are hypothetical riders, and a lot of times they remain hypothetical riders for the rest of their lives, no matter what’s done.


  13. Miroslav Glavic: the tracks on Roncesvalles were torn up for replacing the sewer, lead water pipes, and other underground utilities. The ground has to settle (same as why driveways are not paved for new homes until after a year or so) and to check for construction defects (water leaks, gas leaks, etc.). Better to catch them before the tracks are relaid. The tracks will be laid starting in the summer, followed after another break by the sidewalks.

    Steve: I didn’t understand who recommended they ran the 501 split last year. Most knew what will happen, problems. They should have waited till they could test a 507 service up Roncesvalles, after the tracks are relaid. Most likely they are have a memory of the 502 Downtowner experiment that ran to Bathurst Station.

    Why not do the same setup as the TTC has with the 22 Coxwell bus going up Kingston Road in the evenings and weekends, but in mirror image in the west end with a 507, at least? Keep the 501 to Long Branch during the daytime Monday to Friday.

    Steve: My original proposal was to run the 507 into downtown during weekdays (like the 502), and to Dundas West evenings and weekends (like the 22A). Alas, my proposal was not evaluated during this round.

    There is a job ad up right now for a transit planner at the TTC. The qualifications don’t say anything about creative writing.


  14. Funniest part of the report:

    “The present route structure of the 501 QUEEN route dates from 1995. Between 1970 and 1995, service between Humber Loop and Long Branch Loop operated as a separate route, the 507 LONG BRANCH.”


    The TTC may not have used numbers to designate its routes until the 1970s, but, it certainly operated Long Branch cars as a separate route long before 1970!

    (The TTC’s predecessor, the Toronto Transportation Commission, officially started service on the route in 1935 and, long before then, streetcars operating along other TTC routes served the Lake Shore communities.)

    Steve: I was kind and did not mention this error. No fair kicking them when they’re down.


  15. re: I was kind and did not mention this error. No fair kicking them when they’re down.

    It is very sad when the corporate history of an organization has to be maintained by devoted outsiders. If it were not for you, John F. Bromley & Jack May, Bill Hood, Transit Toronto, et al, there would be no accessible evidence of how things were done transit-wise in Toronto. To me, lack of historical continuity is a major factor in poor planning because many of the problems, and the solutions, of the past are forgotten. This cannot help but influence poor decision making of the future. The fact that something as “simple” as NOT knowing (or catching in text editing) that route numbers were not applied to streetcar routes before 1979 suggests that study and research as a whole in the Tee-hee-hee … sorry, TTC … is woefully inadequate.


  16. Have you noticed fewer Torontonians of means on the streetcars, and more without? I am not denigrating the rich or the poor, but it points to the fact that few are going to use our transit, in its present state, unless they have no choice; if they have an economic choice, they’ll clog our roads with their cars. Me, I walk or cycle, but few choose that due to distance or to sloth. However, like failing schools in poorer neighbourhoods, it doesn’t matter to our society: these people neither have influence nor vote, do they?


  17. I agree with a trial period – but give it at least six months and yes the TTC must (and I mean MUST) advertise what they are doing. That way they can actually see if this imrpoves service as a whole. As Steve has already mentioned, better 508 service would also help. The TTC claimed last year (at their meeting about the ROW along Lake Shore Blvd. W.) that most people during non-rush hour periods use the Lake Shore for local transportation, it makes sense to have it cut off from the 501. However, increased service along the 508 line would allow for a direct one seat ride for those who wish to take the streetcar downtown.

    I do not understand why the TTC staff cannot see the obvious on the benefits of a restored 507 car.


  18. I think part of the reliability problems with the streetcars is due to too many cars being decommissioned and not replaced, partly due to the fact that you can’t get CLRV’s either new or used anymore, because nobody else used them. Throw in a few breakdowns, which shouldn’t be uncommon with 30+ year old cars, and reliability goes out the window.

    What the Queen car needs is a full analysis, to see where the bottlenecks are, I think the biggest bottleneck is the section through The Beach where Queen is quite narrow and plugged with motor vehicle traffic. Finding a solution to this bottleneck, whether it be limiting or eliminating parking, running one direction of the cars on another street (1 block North of Queen maybe), short turning some of the cars so that fewer cars go to the end of the line. Splitting the route, adding a new section that goes North to Bloor on the East end.

    You can’t make everyone happy, so you find a solution that annoys the fewest people, doing nothing simply annoys everyone.

    A solution might be doing more then one thing, for example adding a section North to Bloor Subway on the East end, then splitting the route, so that people who want to go to Dundas West from Neville, would go North to Bloor and take a subway across.

    Steve: I really get upset when people make suggestions showing they have no knowledge of local geography. There is no east west street parallel to Queen east of Kingston Road, and even if there were, it’s a huge expense to install new track “a block away” to deal with a traffic problem. Going north to Bloor (actually Danforth at that point) is not practical until at least Coxwell where new track and a loop for the subway connection would be needed.


  19. I thought I’d offer a perspective on Queen St in The Beach – being a long time resident.

    The entry point into The Beach at Queen and Kingston is somewhat of a pinch point. However, it isn’t the whole stretch that get’s congested – really only up to Lee Ave.

    Queen is not any wider or narrower in The Beach that anywhere else. It’s a busy retail strip. The curb lane is needed for parking and deliveries. The metering system put in a few years ago helps keep people from using this for long term parking. The curb lane has peak hour no-stopping which is quite vigorously enforced – it’s not uncommon to see vehicles being towed at a few minutes after 4 pm.

    During peak, the traffic light timings are set very long in favour of Queen all the way East from Woodbine to the end. The only drawback for this is for pedestrians. Waiting to cross can seem interminable.

    The period between 6 pm and 6:45 or 7 can be worse for congestion as the non stopping restriction ends at 6 pm.

    The TTC already short turns a good percent of cars at Queen and Kingston. This is one of the reasons that many Beachers prefer the Woodbine and Main (and the express) buses as the entry point to public transit. These buses run with good frequency and reliability – usually to the minute of schedule. Until about Yonge, the 501 isn’t serving any destinations that are particularly important to Beachers.

    In over a decade, I’ve never taken the 501 for a trip within the Beach. I generally walk (90-95%) of the time – unless I have to pick up a purchase that is too heavy or bulky to carry home – in which case I drive.


  20. …Beachers prefer the Woodbine and Main (and the express) buses as the entry point to public transit. These buses run with good frequency and reliability – usually to the minute of schedule.

    Of course, these routes are only about 3km long each way.


  21. I realise I don’t know all of the Geography in the area, but that actually isn’t the point, the point is. That right now it seems like we have a route that is broken, but we can’t make any changes to it, in order to fix it.

    Steve: Making suggestions that cannot be implemented because they fail the most basic test of geography puts you in line for a job with TTC Planning. This is, after all, the department that proposed that all-night services would be “nearby” ignoring small features of terrain such as river valleys and Grenadier Pond.

    If you want to make an argument for something, you undermine your position badly by making a proposal than can so easily be dismissed.


  22. Doesn’t it kind of make sense to put tracks on Coxwell? I think that a part of the case against streetcars on Kingston Road more of the time is that they have to spend so much time on Queen to get anywhere.


  23. Hello Steve,

    A little off topic here but when they build the Ashbridges car house, the best route to it would be Coxwell then west (Lakeshore) on a ROW on the south side to the Carhouse. Adding Track to Danforth with an on street Loop and a East ROW on Danforth back to Coxwell to turn south can be added, running Queen or Kingston Road cars there from now on. I know I know, ridership doesn’t justify Streetcars on Coxwell but since the tracks are there, why not? Oh I forgot, it’s the TTC were talking about here…. Overall I support 507 direct to Dundas west station, it would solve a lot of issues with Queen and King for that matter. If they built the Parklawn Loop they just delayed, The 501’s would of all terminated there, eliminating that dumb excuse that Humber is isolated.

    Steve: You appear to suggest that Danforth Carhouse be reactivated, but that’s not a requirement for overall capacity. As for your statement that “the tracks are there” on Coxwell, the existing roadbed would have to be completely rebuilt. I remember what it was like before that line closed in the 60s, and it was in very rough shape.


  24. Coxwell, Dufferin South, and Ossington South were the top 3 choices in the 1997 Opportunities for New Streetcar Routes report. However, these would be very much streetcars, not LRT due to narrowness of the streets involved.

    TTC is unlikely to pursue this unless the new streetcar vehicles prove very, very popular with the public.

    Steve: I hate to say this, but that report was rather amateurish, and didn’t make a good case for expanding the system as it looked primarily at small scale extensions. Transit City, which came years later, was far better.


  25. Won’t the tracks have to be reinstalled from Gerrard to Danforth on Coxwell to reach the museum they want to build in the old Coxwell carhouse?

    Steve: I think that scheme will die when the current administration leaves office. Toronto certainly wouldn’t build 1 km of track just to reach a museum.


  26. You made me do a spit-take here. Hearing all of the reasons the TTC give for not doing this change and thinking to myself “well, the fix is in. They’re not going to do this”, you suddenly say ‘After all of this, the report concludes that “overall, the change would make service better for customers”.’

    The TTC’s OWN numbers, as selective as they are, indicate that this is a service improvement? And then they balk because the additional cost is $875,000 per year? Am I right in noting that this is less than 1/10th of 1 percent of the TTC’s full operating budget?

    Look, the TTC didn’t do a full report, here. They didn’t follow Steve’s suggestions that rush hour runs follow a formalized 508 route. They ignore the value of freeing up ALRVs to operate on King Street (something I think, at any other time, the TTC would give their hind teeth for). And yet they conclude that (gasp!) this might just fix service for southern Etobicoke and Roncesvalles Avenue besides.

    Time for some grassroots action, I think. Perhaps a letter writing campaign to your local councillor and the councillors on the TTC would be in order. I’m sure the TTC can find $875,000 in services that they can channel to this.


  27. Correction to the above: $875,000 is closer to a full 1% of the TTC’s current operating budget.

    Steve: The TTC’s operating budget for 2010 is about $1.45-billion. Your figure does not quite come up to the farebox revenue.


  28. And one final question: why does the TTC assume that the restored 507 service would share a platform with 504 King at Dundas West Station? Why not 505 Dundas, which is less frequent than 504 King? I do note that the run-around track puts cars onto the 504 King platform, so a 507 Long Branch car getting out of the way of a 505 Dundas would end up on the wrong platform, but is that the reason why the TTC assumes that the cars would pick up passengers from the 504 King platform?

    If so, it seems silly to complain about the delay when you’ve already used the solution to said delay to explain why the cars are on that particular track in the first place.

    Steve: The whole business about a shared platform is a red herring. The best headway we are likely to see on a “507” is every 10 minutes, and this is not going to add much to the traffic at Dundas West. Over at my home station, Broadview, there are far worse problems on days when the TTC operates a full rush hour service, but traffic is lighter than usual and streetcars are lined up down Broadview waiting to get into the station. They can’t because the cars are extremely early. By the way, there is a proposal to run service from Broadview Station to the eastern waterfront via Cherry, and this would create the same two-routes-on-a-platform setup as the 507 proposal at Dundas West.

    The far bigger problem for all loops is the length of the new streetcars. How many platforms have room for the equivalent of four CLRVs at once, the same as two of the new cars.


  29. Steve said :

    Making suggestions that cannot be implemented because they fail the most basic test of geography puts you in line for a job with TTC Planning. This is, after all, the department that proposed that all-night services would be “nearby” ignoring small features of terrain such as river valleys and Grenadier Pond.

    If you want to make an argument for something, you undermine your position badly by making a proposal than can so easily be dismissed.

    My response is:

    The actual idea, one way or the other easily dismissed or not, were just some possibilities off the top of my head, as an example of the kind of thing to look at. If you can’t do this, try that, can’t do that, come up with something else. Eventually you find the one that annoys the fewest people, and can fit within the cities budget.

    If you want an actual proposal how about this:

    You take the Queen car, split it into 501 and 501A, the 501 follows the current route to Neville loop, the 501A only goes as far as the Connaught car house, where it loops around and heads back West. Realistically only the Neville Loop cars need to go through the bottle neck. Since the Connaught cars do not, they are able to guarantee that the distance between cars further West doesn’t get too large.

    It’s way less annoying to see 5 cars go by that are not going where you want to go, then it is to get on a car that says it’s going where you want, and find it short turned.

    The only reason I pick Connaught is that you can turn a car there and it’s before the bottle neck. That’s the cheap solution.

    More expensive, run a tunnel under the bottle neck, put stations in some of the building basements, and then come out East of the bottle neck and run back on the surface to Neville loop. I will admit, I don’t know how long the tunnel would need to be, at least 3-4km though….

    Steve: There is a loop at Kingston Road and Queen which is preferable to using Connaught as it preserves the connection with the Coxwell bus (and also bus service on Kingston Road evenings and weekends). The distance from Woodbine to Neville Loop is about 2km. You can check this sort of thing quite easily on Google Maps. Putting the Beach service in a tunnel destroys the whole point of providing local service to the community through which it would run. If I had half a billion or so in small change, this is not how I would spend it on the Queen car. Remember that two km of tunnel will buy you about 100 of the new, double-length streetcars. ($300m/km gives $600m for a Beach subway east of the racetrack. New cars are $6m each including warranty, training and spare parts.)


  30. The Lakeshore Planning Council had a public workshop this past Saturday and the Transportation break-out session identified the reinstated 507 Lakeshore streetcar to Dundas West Station as one of it’s recommended priorities (the others were completing the bike lane network and a half-hourly GO Train service to Mimico & Long Branch stations Saturdays).

    The previous year’s Lakeshore Planning Council public workshop (with a different set of participants) also recommended reinstating the 507 Lakeshore streetcar to Dundas West Station, in addition to improving TTC streetcar line management, and more streetcars serving the west end.

    I find the TTC’s recommendations insulting to Lakeshore residents. They haven’t asked us what we want (more reliable service, for one). At least they had the decency to state splitting the current 501 route into the 501 to Humber and the 507 to Dundas West would improve reliability for all current 501 riders.

    Their half-baked, biased analysis makes a mockery of the process and insults our intelligence.


  31. Actually, I looked at google maps, looked at the satellite view as well, it’s hard to see exactly where the tracks go, as it doesn’t zoom in close enough, and the day they took the picture, there were no streetcars visible along that part of the line, which I find interesting. Kingston Road instead of Connaught, sure. I knew the tunnel would be horrible expensive and not really workable, although knowing the way TTC managment works, it’s probably the only solition they will come up with.

    I think the workable solution, is to intentionally turn some of the cars back before the narrow part of Queen in The Beach. The real question, comes down to traffic, what percentage of cars need to go to the end of the line, and what portion can we turn back early. They might even find that they can turn back some cars before the Don River bridge even.

    Steve: The TTC plans a new loop on Broadview north of Queen, but I have no idea of when they will have the money to build it.


  32. Methinks there would be a lot less traffic disruption were there to be a loop on Broadview south of Queen. It would not require cars to make the awkward left turn from Eastbound Queen to Northbound Broadview, and there’s lots of available land south of Queen.

    Steve: They already have the land — the parking lot on the east side of Broadview. As for the turn, the King car does it all the time, and this is a transit priority signal that works properly.


  33. @Wogster; the link in Leo Petr’s May 3rd comment goes to a report that includes near the back a track map complete with all loops (not to scale, but gives the network info that matters).


  34. @James Bow
    “Time for some grassroots action, I think. Perhaps a letter writing campaign to your local councillor and the councillors on the TTC would be in order.”

    There is, online, on the Facebook ‘Reinstate the 507 Streetcar’ page. I know at least one person from the TTC is checking this page, as well as some media transportation writers.

    As well there is Lakeshore Planning Council’s site ‘’ to comment.

    Please support our community’s efforts for decent reliable streetcar service.


  35. I’m not sure where the number of streetcars required for a 507-to-Dundas-West are found. Here’s some back-of-the-envelope calculation.

    Steve: The fast way to do this is simply to look at the number of cars assigned to the Humber service, multiply by two, and subtract the result from the total service. They would probably save one more car by getting rid of the extended layovers whose purpose is partly to make the blended schedule work on paper.

    It takes about 30 minutes running time between Long Branch and Roncesvalles (by observation, and confirmed by your data. Better signal priority along The Queensway could cut this by a couple of minutes. While PCC-type performance could help chop a few minutes along Lake Shore, the problem of wide streets that passengers must cross, and suburban drivers unfamiliar with the concept of stopping for streetcars, places a lower limit on stop dwell time on most Lake Shore stops, even lightly-used ones.

    It’s 60 minutes Roncesvalles-Long Branch-Roncesvalles; probably more like 45-50 minutes Humber-Long Branch-Humber; this might drop the number of streetcars west of Humber to 5 from 6 (although you never know how many are lurking at New Toronto or Long Branch loops).

    Steve: When the 507 was a separate line, the one-way trip time was usually 25 minutes.

    Queen/Roncesvalles to Dundas West station would be somewhere just over 10 minutes, looking at some posted King car link time data.

    That’s close to 45 minutes one-way, Dundas West to Long Branch and vice-versa, and that doesn’t include time in the loop. A 90-minute round-trip is doable, but on the aggressive side unless 1) signals on the Queensway don’t delay service; 2) something a bit zippier than an ALRV is used; 3) the ATU doesn’t mind minimal loop time.

    With this 90-minute round trip, how many streetcars would we need?

    5-minute headway: 18
    9-minute headway: 10
    10-minute headway: 9
    15-minute headway: 6
    18-minute headway: 5

    Now, my opinion is that the headway should be “FS” for a lot of the day or the whole deal isn’t really worth it. That means a minimum of 10 streetcars in service (if the 90-minute round trip is even possible).

    Steve: One travesty in the “Transit City Bus Plan” was the omission of the streetcar routes. I understand this is to be changed in a forthcoming revision, and if Long Branch therefore becomes part of the “10 minute network” it would get better service as a matter of policy. That cost should not be charged to the “fix the Queen car”budget.

    I’m not sure how many streetcars the TTC counts as being west of Humber with the 501 at any given time. You can’t really go on a headway/running time because there can be one or more cars sitting at Long Branch and Humber loops for extended periods of time. I would guess 6 streetcars or so to make up the typical 11+ minute headway on a roughly 60-minute round trip.

    Six streetcars would give a 15-minute headway which is not going to help riders on Lake Shore even if every one shows up exactly on time (and how likely is that, really?). When the TTC talks about “up to four” additional streetcars being required, that puts us in the 10-car range, which would be good for 9-minute service.

    However as soon as you make the round-trip time 100 minutes, the frequencies start to drop again. Personally, given the trends in scheduling, it wouldn’t surprise me to see a 105-minute round trip, with the consequent erratic headways as operators deal with excessively low scheduled speeds.

    Vehicle choice for the new 507 is also problematic. Today, CLRVs would be a no-brainer. However, there’s demand for accessibility on Lake Shore. Quite a few riders are either elderly, or young parents with strollers. Unfortunately, the new low-floor cars are too big for the likely demand. So the 507 is left with rebuilt CLRVs for an indefinite period of time.

    The Lakeshore Planning Council had a community planning meeting this past weekend. I was not part of the transportation working group, but I would guess that a request for “accessible service” is part of the outcome.

    The TTC has lots of accessible buses. In several ways, buses are more suited to service on Lake Shore than streetcars are (shhhh!!). Wouldn’t it be funny if the new “507” turned out to be a branch of the 66 Prince Edward bus?


  36. Regardless of the cuts to service, a loss of 25% of employment in the corridor is going to limit ridership. The loss itself should be of great concern for the city and citizens. The city missed the last economic boom. Despite 20 years of ‘growth’ there may be less private sector employment in the city today than a generation ago.

    That has always been my major concern with transit expansion in Toronto. If the city cannot grow its employment base, why increase public transit? Increasingly the commuting flows are outwards and cannot be completed via PT.

    Steve: However, this corridor is also earmarked as an “Avenue” in the Official Plan with a considerable growth in population. Indeed, that’s why the Lake Shore is included in the Transit City Plan via the Waterfront West line. If it’s good enough for an LRT line, why isn’t it good enough for just plain old passable streetcar service?


  37. “Unfortunately, the new low-floor cars are too big for the likely demand. So the 507 is left with rebuilt CLRVs for an indefinite period of time.”

    I believe the new vehicles are replacing the old on close to a 1:1 basis. 196 CLRVs and 52 ALRVs are retiring in place of 204 of the new streetcars, so that ratio is 1:1.21

    And, as has been noted, policy should demand that no one should have to wait more than ten minutes for a scheduled streetcar, and service on Lake Shore should be increased to at least that level forthwith.


  38. I may be pointing out the obvious here, but frequencies will worsen at least slightly when the current fleet is phased out completely. Without a larger fleet than currently on order, not including new proposals like East Bayfront, there aren’t enough vehicles to improve frequencies anywhere. That said, crowding and dwell times should still fall as capacity overall still goes up.


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