Updated November 18, 2013 at 6:15am: Broken links/filenames corrected.
Route 501 Queen is the longest of the TTC’s streetcar routes, and among the longest in the entire system (54 Lawrence East is longer as a surface route, and the Yonge-University-Spadina subway is longer than both of them).
The Queen car is the subject of unending complaints about service quality. It suffers the compounding effects of its length, its passage through some very busy sections of Toronto, and the fact that it operates with two nominally interleaved services.
During 2013, this route was subject to a number of disruptions through one-day events and from long-running diversions, but the operating schedule for the route was not changed except recently when construction on Lake Shore Blvd. required that streetcars turn back from Humber Loop. This provided a series of views of operations on one route under various conditions.
The table linked here shows the headways and running times for various periods of operation for the 501 Queen car during 2013.
The only schedule changes during 2013 were:
- April 1: Midday, early evening and late evening services improved to address overcrowding.
- September 3: Humber-Connaught AM peak trippers changed to operate only to Parliament.
- October 15: Service split at Humber Loop with buses running west to Long Branch.
No adjustments were made to running times throughout the period to allow for the effects of construction and numerous special events affecting the route during 2013 including:
- May 1: A protest march required a diversion of service in the early evening via King between Church and Shaw
- May 5: Goodlife Marathon
- May 20: Victoria Day (fireworks in The Beach)
- June 29 to July 28: Reconstruction of the intersection at Queen & York. Queen service diverted via King between Church and Spadina.
- July 1: Canada Day (celebrations at Nathan Phillips Square)
- July 8: Major storm and flooding
- July 25-27: Beaches Jazz Festival
- August 6 to 20: Reconstruction of the intersection of King & Spadina. King service diverted onto Queen, and spillover road traffic from King affected Queen and other neighbouring streets.
- June 23 onward: Reconstruction of Kingston Road. Depending on the state of open and closed sections, Queen east of Woodbine suffered from extra traffic diverted south from Kingston Road.
- October 5: Nuit Blanche
- October 20: Waterfront Marathon
One-day events are handled with diversions, extra service and ad hoc management. Construction effects should result in schedule changes, but nothing was implemented.
In this article, I will review the headways actually provided at various points along the route. This information is derived from the TTC’s vehicle monitoring system (the same data that feed the NextBus system and other web applications) for the months of:
- May (as a “before” reference),
- July (service diverted off of Queen),
- August (service diverted onto Queen from King),
- September (return to quasi-normal), and
- October (split service at Humber starting on Thanksgiving weekend).
This is an unusually long article with many linked charts because I am covering a lot of territory and want to give readers who are interested lots of material to see what is happening on the route. What is evident is that 501 Queen does not suffer from occasional upsets, but that it provides chronically poor service under a wide variety of conditions.
This article focuses on headways. In a separate article I will turn to running times and the degree to which insufficient schedule time contributes to erratic service.