Queen Street and New Streetcars: Less Service, Fewer Stops, Wider Gaps?

The Beach Metro Community News reports on a recent meeting to discuss traffic problems on the east end of Queen Street.  Some comments echo the type of remarks one hears elsewhere in the city about increased traffic from redevelopment, the absolute essential nature of parking to prevent business bankruptcies, and the need to rebalance road space to serve all travellers, including cyclists, not just motorists.

Most troubling are comments by the TTC:

TTC’s Manager of Planning Mitch Stambler talked to the residents about plans to change the Queen Street route. With the new streetcars being introduced next year, two or three of the stops will be eliminated, said Stambler. This is a result of the length of the new streetcars.

Stambler also admitted that less streetcars will run along Queen Street because of its increased capacity. Cost of operation and studies related to ridership will dictate how many and how often the new streetcars will run.

One resident who lives at the east end of Queen Street expressed concerns with streetcars stopping idle near the Neville loop. Stambler said he hopes that with the decreased frequency of the bigger streetcars the issue will be eased.

The TTC has been inconsistent in statements about how the new cars would affect service.  Initially, the idea was that larger cars would provide more capacity, badly needed on many routes including Queen.  A few years later, thanks to the penny-pinching budgets of Mayor Ford and TTC Chair Stintz, the idea of actually improving service capacity vanished.  Indeed, the TTC has already relaxed its off-peak loading standards for streetcars to allow more standees in a bid to save on operations.

Add to this the highly irregular headways on Queen and other routes, any proposal to run fewer streetcars can only mean one thing: service, which declined substantially when headways were widened for the 75-foot long articulated light rail vehicles (ALRVs), will get even worse with the new larger low floor cars (LFLRVs).

The TTC likes to talk about how running fewer cars will improve service by reducing the bunching inherent when cars are scheduled more frequently than traffic signal cycles.  This does not, and has not, applied to Queen Street for many decades.  Indeed, the TTC tries to make virtue out of wider headways by generalizing an hypothesis originally developed for a simulation of operations on the busy King streetcar downtown during peak periods.  There is no comparison to the Queen car in The Beach.

As for stop spacing, there have been many comments on this site about the excessive number of stops on Queen and other routes.  Among the most likely to vanish are the Sunday stops especially if any special sidewalk treatment or fare machine installations would be required.  (All of the Sunday stops on Roncesvalles came out as part of that street’s redesign.)  Some other stops are simply too close together, and these are often leftovers of historical traffic patterns dating back to the 50s and beyond.

With all its emphasis on “Customer Service”, the TTC owes streetcar riders in Toronto a clear statement on its intentions for service with the new cars.  Moreover, as a long series of service analyses here have demonstrated, the TTC must aggressively improve its line management to ensure that the headways it advertises are actually delivered to customers.  No more excuses.  No more “mixed traffic, congestion and TTC culture”.  No more bogus stats that use averages to hide the widespread TTC failure to deliver reliable service.

[Thanks to James J. for sending me the link to this article.]

44 thoughts on “Queen Street and New Streetcars: Less Service, Fewer Stops, Wider Gaps?

  1. Robert Wightman, thanks for the update. It seems plans are changing faster than I know.

    Robert Wightman said:

    To get through the Hurontario-Dundas intersection ban all turns and make a one way counter clockwise loop using King, Camilla, Kirwin and Confederation.

    Is that suggestion for cars or transit? I don’t think that drivers or transit users would be too interested in that much of a diversion … and I can see opposition to the prospect of added traffic from residents living on Kerwin and Camilla.

    On the other hand … given that drivers already use those roads to avoid making turns at Dundas and Hurontario … well I guess it could work (if turns are banned, turning cars are diverted and cars driving straight can continue to drive straight through).

    Cheers, Moaz


  2. While motorists may make up the majority in most parts of Toronto, on the specific roads where LRT is being proposed transit users make up the majority. Asking for one third of the road space be dedicated to them isn’t unreasonable.


  3. Hello Steve,

    I remember reading your suggestions for a Long Branch to Dundas West service a while back now. Was there any studies done by the TTC that paid any attention to this kind of route changes? I faintly remember something being done about it, but obviously the status quo still reigns.

    Thanks for all your work.

    Steve: The TTC looked at but rejected the idea. Their analysis dismissed the need for extra cars, but also misrepresented the purpose of the route overlaps (Queensway from Ronces to Humber, Ronces from Queen to Dundas West). They are deliberate to account for the inevitable short turns of the King and Queen routes, but the TTC downplayed this as a benefit.


  4. Sigh. Exclusive streetcar/bus lanes on Queen and King are completely viable, technically speaking. Eliminate through traffic, leaving only local motorcar traffic; and eliminate all parking except commercial loading, taxi drop-off/pick-up, and disabled parking.

    These streets are NOT narrow, not by London standards. In London they run bus lanes through streets narrower than that.

    Adelaide & Richmond provide alternative routes for cars, at least between Bathurst and the Don River.

    Steve: I think it would be useful to know what proportion of traffic on these streets is what you would call “through traffic”. I am not sure you would reduce total demand substantially. West of Bathurst where density is building up considerably along with transit demand, there is no alternative to Queen and King.


Comments are closed.