Recent articles on this site looked in great detail at the 501 Queen car and the problems with its service. Often, when people talk about Queen, they miss the streetcar routes that are, in effect, branch operations of the Queen line serving Kingston Road in The Beach:
- 502 Downtowner (formerly Kingston Road) operates between Bingham Loop (at Victoria Park & Kingston Road) and McCaul Loop sharing trackage with 501 Queen west of Woodbine Loop (which is actually at Kingston Road, and is named for the old racetrack, which itself became “Greenwood” when “New Woodbine” opened in northern Etobicoke). This route operates weekdays until the end of the PM peak. Evening and weekend service is provided by the 22a Coxwell bus.
- 503 Kingston Road Tripper operates rush hours only between Bingham Loop and York Street running into the core via King from the Don Bridge, and looping downtown via Church, Wellington and York.
This service design has been in place, with only a few changes, since 1948:
- 1954: Streetcar service cut back from Birchmount Loop to Bingham Loop.
- 1966: Coxwell bus replaced Coxwell streetcar and evening/weekend service on Kingston Rd./Coxwell (same as the 22A today).
The route name “Downtowner” arose from an ill-advised proposal to provide “relief” to the downtown subway by extending Kingston Road cars from McCaul Loop west and north to Bathurst Station in 1973. This didn’t last long. A year later the extended service became a peak-only operation, and that remained, on paper at least, until 1984. We have the name as a memento of that extension now 30-years in the past. The basic problem was that very little of the service actually reached Bathurst Station with many cars short turning either at Wolseley Loop (Queen & Bathurst) or at McCaul Loop.
The situation is not unlike what we see today because the 502 Downtowner schedule does not provide enough running time, and short turning is a chronic problem. This is particularly troubling because the short turns defeat the purpose of the route’s existence:
- A short turn eastbound at Woodbine Loop removes service from the street which the route is intended to serve.
- A short turn westbound at Church (looping via Richmond and Victoria) sends a car east without serving the major stops downtown from Yonge to University.
- A short turn westbound at Parliament (looping via Dundas and Broadview) removes a car even more from downtown, and not even a clever rider walking a block east from Yonge (an “illegal” move with a regular transfer) can take advantage of the service.
This is compounded by extremely erratic headways that are far worse than I have seen on any other route I have analyzed. According to TTC route performance stats, the 502 is “on time” (that is to say, within ±3 minutes of the scheduled headway) 30% of the time. As we will see later, even that claim is a stretch.
As for the 503 Kingston Road Tripper, service on that route is supposed to be blended with the 502, and during AM peaks it can work out, sort of, there is a vaguely reliable headway of alternating 502/503 cars on Kingston Road. But it’s a hit-and-miss situation, and very large gaps in 503 service are quite common.
Anyone attempting to use transit on or to Kingston Road is well advised to get on the first thing that shows up and be prepared to transfer. This appalling situation is a mockery of what the TTC claims is its “customer service”.
Service on Kingston Road was substantially better in past decades, and it is no wonder that ridership and scheduled service levels have fallen given the unpredictable nature of these routes. Recently, there has been some improvement. In April 2013, off-peak headways of 502 Downtowner improved from 20 to 16 minutes, and in June 2015, from 16 to 10 minutes. However, the fundamental problem of headway reliability undoes much semblance of “improvement”.
The following table summarizes the scheduled service levels during the periods included in this analysis.
2013 was a trying time for Kingston Road riders as the evolving schedules (and actual operations) show:
- May 2013: Routes operating “normally” to McCaul and to York downtown, and to Bingham Loop in the east end. Midday service had just been improved in April 2013 from every 20′ to every 16′ on the schedule.
- July 2013: Reconstruction of Kingston Road caused all streetcar service to be cut back at Woodbine Loop. Meanwhile, construction on York required both routes to turn back at Church/Victoria.
- July 29, 2013: Service west to McCaul Loop resumed on 502 Downtowner, but the 503 Trippers could not use York Street for their loop because it was still under construction. This situation continued until December.
- September 2, 2013: Service was scheduled to resume to Bingham Loop, but reconstruction of the street was not yet complete and streetcars continued to turn at Woodbine Loop. This arrangement continued into the late fall.
- December 23, 2013: Service was planned to resume to Bingham Loop, but the massive ice storm of the preceding weekend made Kingston Road impassible for a few days.
During the extended construction period, the 502 and 503 cars were treated more as unscheduled extras on the Queen and King lines, and supervisors filled many gaps to Neville Loop with 502s that had nothing else to do.
In 2014, the service operated with the same peak schedule as it had before the construction projects including the new 16′ midday headway. This continued until June 21, 2015 when the midday headway improved to 10′ and Kingston Road became part of the new “Ten Minute Network”.
The 503 Trippers were also affected by the long-running Queen Don Bridge diversion that sent all King Street service via Queen and Parliament to route. This ended in early June 2015.
A Note About File Names
The various charts use a similar naming convention to the one in the recent 501 Queen articles. “523” is the dummy route number for the combined 502/503 service.
- For headway charts, the number after the route name gives the direction (“1” = westbound, “2” = eastbound) and location (“01” is the first point on the route counting from the east where I have measured headways).
- For link time charts, the number after the route name gives the direction (“1” or “2” as above) and the pair of points on the route between which running times are measured.
This convention sorts files in geographic rather than alphabetic street name order.
Service at Bingham Loop (Victoria Park)
This chart shows, for the periods that streetcar service did operate to Bingham Loop, the actual headways westbound on Kingston Road just west of the loop. (Using this point avoids variations in GPS data depending on how cars circle the loop and lay over.) Average and Standard Deviation values are shown for each week with breakdowns by hour. A headway is counted within an hour based on when a vehicle passes the measurement point. Therefore, a gap spanning from 6:50 am to 7:10 am is counted as a 20′ headway within the 7:00 hour.
During the peak periods, the data include both the 502 and 503 services. This is evident from the much larger average values through midday. During the peak, the averages should be 6 minutes except for late June 2015 when the summer service at 7’30” operated. However, the averages are generally a bit higher and, much more troubling, the standard deviation values lie above 3 minutes, particularly in the PM peak.
Midday service should average 16′, but the values are generally higher, and the SD have a wide range rarely below 5′. This shows that not all of the service reached Bingham, and what did make it to the end of the line ran on an erratic headway.
Service at Coxwell Avenue Westbound
At Coxwell, any service that short turned at Woodbine Loop is back in the mix, and this improves the averages somewhat, although the peaks still run above the expected 6′ mark. Part of the problem is that the 503 service, being trippers, does not always make it out if there is a shortage of operators or vehicles. As at Bingham, the standard deviation values are high, and by the PM peak they are comparable to the headways showing severe bunching.
Midday service at Coxwell westbound is atrocious. The average values lie generally around the scheduled 16′ headway, dropping to 10′ with the schedule change in June 2015, but the SD values are generally over half a headway showing that there is a wide range of typical headways even on the part of the route that would have benefitted from short turns. The schedule may say 16′, but what riders actually get is often much different.
The service during summer 2013 was not operating strictly to schedule, but rather as if the cars were extras to be used wherever they could help out on the main routes.
The pattern at Coxwell is mirrored at points further west along the line showing that there is no effort so impose regular headways on the inbound service.
Service at Yonge and Queen Westbound
At Yonge and Queen, only the 502 Downtowner service is present. It should appear on a 12′ peak and a 16′ offpeak headway. For the AM peak, this average generally holds, albeit with a standard deviation in the 5′ range indicating uneven service. Midday, the average is routinely at or above 20′, and this is particularly bad in 2015 with midday averages in the 25-35 minute range. This is a direct result of the amount of service short turned westbound at Church and even at Parliament that does not reach the core area to serve outbound trips. The PM peak averages run well above the scheduled value, and the SD numbers are routinely at or above the scheduled headway.
Service at University Eastbound
University Avenue is a short distance east of McCaul Loop, and so measurements here show the eastbound service before most effects such as “congestion” might take their toll on reliability.
The AM peak is reasonably well-behaved in the early hours with average headways at roughly the scheduled level and low SD values showing regular departures from the loop. However, by midday, the average headway values start to bounce around and are generally above 20′ even though the schedule says 16′. Most of the SD values are above 10′ showing very irregular service. The PM peak values are also well above the scheduled numbers, particularly in 2015.
As at Yonge westbound, this shows the effect of the amount of service that is short turned before reaching the area where most outbound riders would be waiting.
Service at Parliament and at Broadview Eastbound
Service eastbound at Parliament and Broadview makes an interesting comparison for several reasons.
Peak period service at Parliament includes only the 502 Downtowner cars because the 503s are either on King Street, or are joining Queen at Parliament (on diversion) and are not counted as “crossing” Parliament in these charts. Comparing the charts at Broadview shows the difference in the average peak headways with and without the 503 trippers included.
Midday service eastbound at Parliament includes cars that short-turned westbound at Church, but not cars that short turn at Parliament. Average headways are closer to, but still generally above the target values of 16′, dropping to 10′ in late June 2015.
Service at Woodbine Avenue Eastbound
As with the westbound charts for Bingham, this set only shows periods when service ran up Kingston Road. Service here mirrors the pattern at Bingham and shows the effect of short-turns at Woodbine Loop. Midday average headways are almost always above the 16′ scheduled value, and SD values indicate that the values vary widely, certainly well beyond the TTC’s ±3 minute target.
Comparing Actual and Scheduled Running Times
A fundamental problem with the 502 Downtowner service is that the time provided in the schedule is inadequate, except early in the morning, for actual conditions on the route. As a result, cars are almost always late, and the result is chronic short-turning. Moreover, headway regulation takes a back seat to simply keeping operators on time, and chaotic service is the accepted norm on this route.
These charts track the time required for streetcars to operate between points near the eastern and western termini. The values are quite consistent with low SD values showing that the 502 Downtowner service is not subject (at least for the months represented here) to the type of delays that plague its sister route 501 Queen. There is a slight increase in the 2015 values, but things have been consistent for a few years.
The scheduled one-way trip from Bingham to McCaul has been 42 minutes peak, 40 minutes midday, for a long time. Only in late June 2015 was the peak time extended with 3 minutes recovery time. This is more about making the trip time an even multiple of the headway for the summer schedule rather than to match actual conditions, and the recovery time will almost certainly vanish again in the fall schedules.
Actual times from west of Bingham to University lie at or above the scheduled times for the slightly longer trips including turnaround time at the terminals. Clearly, it is impossible for streetcars to achieve these times.
These charts cover the shorter segment of the route for which there is data during 2013 when streetcars all turned back at Woodbine Loop. The scheduled running times from Woodbine to McCaul Loop were 30′ (AM peak), 32′ (Midday) and 33′ (PM peak). The progression in values mirrors but does not match the actual increases seen in the data where there is a wider range between the AM and PM peaks. As with the data for trips to/from Bingham, the amount of time required for the segment excluding the termini is close to or greater than the scheduled value over the entire route.
There is one point with a disruption in service in early August 2013 that extended the averages. This was caused by severe congestion eastbound from University to Yonge during the PM peak.
503 Kingston Road Tripper Service
Monitoring the 503 on its downtown loop is challenging because GPS errors are common among the many tall buildings. Cars routinely report that they are much further north than their actual location, or even that they are nowhere near downtown. To avoid this problem, I have used Sherbourne Street as a reference point. This picks up all service to and from downtown regardless of whether it is bound for York or only for Church.
Service westbound into downtown is roughly at the scheduled 12′ headway early in the AM peak, but the average gets worse in later hours. Moreover, the SD values are high indicating that the cars are not regularly spaced. Eastbound from downtown in the PM peak, average headways are only close to the 12′ schedule for the 4:00 pm hour, and by 5:00 pm, the averages are much worse, especially in 2015. As with the AM peak, the SD values are high indicating irregular service.
June 2015 In Detail
The following charts show the detail of headways by day and week at three locations: westbound from Bingham Loop, eastbound at University (502 service only), and westbound at Sherbourne (503 service only). (Note that Wednesday, June 10 has no data available.)
For the 502 Downtowner service, the trend lines show broadly how the headways behave near the termini with widely-ranging values some of which are so high that the service is for all purposes completely absent. In the middle part of the route, east of Parliament and west of Coxwell, the service may be “on time”, but it is doing little more than operating as extras on 501 Queen.
Equally with the 503 service, the headways vary widely and bear no resemblance to the advertised service (12′ headways except in late June 2015 when they move to 15′).
Looking at Individual Days
The layout of these charts is similar to previous time-distance charts I have published except that it contains a separate segment for the portion of the 503 Kingston Road Tripper route that splits off from 502 Downtowner. This segment is placed at the top of the chart and shows the portion of the line west of Parliament Street. Lines moving diagonally up to the right are westbound cars, downward are eastbound. A horizontal line is a stationary vehicle.
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
June 2 was a typical day, to the extent one can make this statement, given stats showing widespread gapping and bunching as an ongoing problem.
The first page covers the early morning up to 7:00 am. Cars pull into service from Russell Carhouse, operate east to Bingham Loop, wait for their departure time, and leave. The first of the 503 trippers leaves Bingham just after 6:25, operates westbound to Parliament (the Don Bridge diversion was still in effect) and then shifts from the “502” part of the chart to the “503” section. Two cars are held westbound at Pape just before 7:00, and they will be held again west of Broadview shortly later. This is probably an equipment failure on the first car as it disappears from the data stream near McCaul Loop at about 7:25 and is not seen again.
The second page covers the AM peak from 7:00 to 10:00. The 503 runs are easy to spot because of the way they vanish at Parliament (reappearing on the 503 segment), but what this also shows is that, in general, they are not running half way between 502 cars. This problem gets worse as time passes. The somewhat irregular headway of the 503s is visible in the top part of the chart. Note that missing data in the eastbound trips is due to GPS problems on King Street in the “canyon”, although the phenomenon extends east of Church for some cars. (This illustrates why I used Sherbourne Street as a reference point above.) All of the 503s run in to Russell Carhouse eastbound.
Service to McCaul is somewhat irregular with a large gap at 8:40.
- The car that had been delayed twice around 7:00 am (“turquoise”) continues to make full McCaul-Bingham trips but it is closely shadowed by the following car (“light green”) for a round trip until that car short turns westbound at Church. “Turquoise” runs in eastbound to Russell.
- One car (“amber”) shows a propensity for running close behind its leader starting eastbound from McCaul at 8:10, and this continues until about 10:50 when it is short-turned at Church.
The third page covers the midday from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. The horizontal lines east of Greenwood are caused by data from cars that have run in to Russell Yard, but whose operators did not “log off” the tracking system. Events of note:
- No cars short turn eastbound at Woodbine, but service to Bingham is irregular, especially for a 20′ headway, and there are some gaps of over 30 minutes.
- Three cars short turn westbound at Church, and one at Broadview.
- Short turns leave a gap of roughly an hour eastbound through the core starting at about 11:15.
- One car is short turned twice at Church and is accompanied for much of a round trip by another car.
There was no e-Alert giving any indication of troubles on the route and the short turns appear to simply be a case of trying, badly, to keep cars on time.
Page four covers the afternoon from 1:00 to 4:00 pm.
- Four cars short turn westbound at Broadview, and one at Church causing very large gaps in service from Yonge to McCaul Loop.
Page five covers the PM peak from 4:00 to 7:00 pm.
- The 503 is supposed to be operating every 12 minutes (5 cars/hour), but only 9 trips show up in the 2.5 hour period when service would be expected.
- One 503 car (“pink”) is rerouted via Church to Queen to fill a gap on the 502 just before 6:00, but as it operates east from Church, it does not serve the primary stop eastbound at Yonge.
- Six of the westbound 502 trips are short turned at Broadview returning east from Parliament. It is unclear just what service these provide to people waiting downtown for cars to Kingston Road.
- During the three-hour period, only five cars reach McCaul Loop on what should be a 12′ headway.
Thursday, June 11, 2015
June 11 starts out well, but things fall apart as the day progresses.
For the early morning, service builds up normally, although one 503 car (“grey”) runs from Russell to Woodbine Loop, takes a long layover, and then enters service westbound on Queen just after 7:30.
For the AM peak, the 502 service operates normally between Bingham and McCaul, but the 503 service has large gaps probably due to missing cars.
For the midday, the 502 service operates almost entirely without short turns, but there is one “problem” car (“mauve”). On the 10:15 trip westbound from Bingham, it is already closer than scheduled (the 20′ midday headway) to its leader (“dark blue”) which appears to be falling behind schedule due to a widening gap. By 11:30, the two cars are running as a pair for much of a round trip until “mauve” short turns eastbound at Woodbine Loop. Meanwhile, another pair has formed westbound from Bingham at 12:10.
In the afternoon, the effect of pairing and short turns becomes more evident:
- “Mauve” and “turquoise” make much of a round trip together leaving McCaul eastbound at about 1:20 pm, and they are followed by a one-hour gap.
- “Dark blue” makes two trips where it short turns westbound at Broadview.
Also visible during this period is the onset of congestion between University and Yonge.
In the PM peak, congestion west of Yonge becomes severe with some cars taking close to an hour to make the trip westbound. This was the day of an intense storm that would later close the east end of the Queen route due to a fallen tree, and flood Museum Station. There was no e-Alert issued for either the Queen or Downtowner route, and it is unclear what was happening around City Hall at the time. (The Gardiner East debate was in progress inside the chamber.)
The 503 trippers managed to operate almost all of their trips, but with some of the second outbound departures delayed and bunched.
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
June 24 was a fairly typical day for service on the 502 and 503 after the introduction of the more frequent 10′ headways for midday service on 502 Downtowner. Peak headways were on the summer frequency of 15′ on each of the two routes.
Early morning service is unremarkable. Its line vanishes at around 6:50, the point where it turns off of Queen onto King at the Don Bridge, and reappears at Berkeley Street, one block west of Parliament, shortly later.
The AM peak shows the same pattern seen on other days with the 503 cars failing to provide an evenly split headway westbound from Bingham as the morning progresses. The GPS problem on King is so severe for one car (blue line leaving York eastbound about 8:20) that it actually appears briefly as if it were on Queen crossing Yonge Street, then disappears back to King Street.
Meanwhile, the service to McCaul Loop has been well-behaved with only a few oddities:
- Delays eastbound at Woodbine caused by traffic signals favouring westbound cars turning south are evident.
- There are delays at Pape (the almost horizontal sections for several cars between Greenwood and Broadview, mainly westbound.
- One car (turquoise) appears out of nowhere eastbound at Coxwell at 9:10. This car will have an interesting progress for the next few hours as we will see.
For the midday:
- There is one delay eastbound just east of Broadview that holds a car for half an hour starting at 10:50. During this period, two cars divert via Parliament, Dundas and Broadview, and only lose a little time in the process (note how the breaks in their graphs have an offset because it takes longer to cover this distance via Dundas than via Queen). The delayed car short turns eastbound at Woodbine Loop, and then westbound at Broadview finally getting back into place eastbound from Parliament at about noon.
- Our “mystery” car (turquoise) runs west to McCaul, then east only to Woodbine Loop. On its next eastbound trip, it runs through to Bingham, but shadows another car most of the way. On their westbound trips (about 12:05 from Bingham), our “turquose” car short turns at Church/Victoria, while its cohort (“light blue”) short turns at Broadview returning east from Parliament.
- Two cars are short turned at Church/Victoria around 11:30, but their eastbound re-entry is closely followed by another car (“pink”) which short-turns eastbound at Woodbine Loop.
For the afternoon period:
- Five cars short turn westbound at Church/Victoria, and two cars short turn westbound at Broadview (re-entering eastbound from Parliament). With a scheduled 10′ headway, this means that 7 of 18 cars, almost 40% of the service, never reached Yonge Street. Headways through the core suffered accordingly with two gaps of over 30 minutes eastbound from McCaul.
- Four cars short turn eastbound at Woodbine Loop.
- One car (“blue”) has a particularly interesting journey. Eastbound just after 1:00 pm it short turns at Woodbine Loop and immediately follows another car (“brown”) westbound. “Brown” turns back from Church and neatly splits an eastbound gap. Meanwhile “blue” turns again at Woodbine Loop and closely follows “brown” westbound to Church and short turns, only to be closely followed east by another car (“light blue”) coming east from McCaul. “Blue” finally morphs into a 503 car for its westbound trip around 3:30 pm.
- Meanwhile, or friend “turquoise” comes east to Bingham at 1:20 pm, and is closely followed west by “pink”. “Turquoise” short turns at Church only to become part of a pair with “light blue” eastbound. Eventually, thanks to everything else being short turned, “turquoise” makes a trip to McCaul as a solitary car trailed by a 40 minute wide gap.
For the PM peak:
- Service on the 503 looks as if cars missing, but they are just badly spaced. In the course of two hours there are 8 trips, what one would expect on a 15′ headway, but some of them run much more closely to each other than the scheduled interval.
- During this period, 5 of the 502 cars short turn at Broadview and return east from Parliament, and 1 car short turns at Church.
- A delay at Queen and Bay held service between roughly 5:30 and 5:50 pm. During this period most of the 502s were not even getting to Church, let alone Bay, and one car at McCaul Loop (“brown”) disappears from the chart while it loops north to Dundas, east to Victoria and finally south to Queen rejoining the line at about 6:00 pm. There was almost no 502 service eastbound through the core during the main part of the PM peak.
Service on this date may not look very good, but it is not unusual.
The thread running through all of this is that a relatively minor streetcar line can be extremely frustrating to riders through inattention to adequate scheduling and through line management that values short turns and being on time to provision of service where riders actually might be located.
Making 502 Downtowner part of the “ten minute network” should improve the lot of riders on Kingston Road, but this will only actually happen if schedules are adjusted to provide adequate running time when it is needed, if short turns are rare and used only for the need to restore service after a bona fide delay.
The “blended” 503 Kingston Road service is a special challenge and at the very least, it should be managed during the AM peak when demand is primarily inbound to give reliable service westbound from Bingham Loop. Whether the two routes should be consolidated as one is a separate debate, and that should occur in the context of much better line management in general. Consolidation will send more peak cars to McCaul Loop, but they could be just as disorganized (not to mention short turned) as the 502 service is today.
It seems to me that extending the 502 to Wolseley loop would be a good idea. This would let these cars connect with both Spadina and Bathurst cars, and serve the increasing commercial and residential ridership on Queen West. At present a 502 is okay if you’re going as far west as Spadina, but is an unreasonably far walk for Bathurst.
Steve: Yes it “sounds” like a good idea, but in practice the section of Queen west of McCaul is frequently very badly congested, and just getting around the corners at Queen/Bathurst takes a while. In practice, the 502 is better off staying where it is. If more service is needed on Queen West, the real solution should be to improve the Queen car which runs all of the time, not just weekdays, and at a shorter headway.
As you say, this summer has improved dramatically. 10min service, it seems to be running great. A bit of bunching near VP because there is extra running time I guess it’s hard for the ops to go ‘slow’ like the buses always do. I think they are given 10 or 12min from Queen to VP but in midday, even with lights and stops, cars can do it in 5 or 6 easy. Problem as I see it is this move comes 20 or 30 years too late. Die hard riders have long ago picked another route to travel and they will not come back now. Also 502’s now show up all the time, but they are all more than 1/2 empty on KR as this is too much service for the small demand. I guess on Queen it’s just another 501 so the numbers will climb.
Steve: Yes, this is the danger in service cuts generally. Driving riders away is simple, and the TTC did it in a big way on Queen where the route lost 1/3 of its ridership due to the combination of wider headways with the ALRVs and atrocious line management that produced completely unreliable service.
I read, years ago, a suggestion that Kingston Rd. should be the main branch of the Queen car service because there were more onward connections at Bingham than at Neville.
Steve: I don’t think that the primary function of Bingham Loop is to be a major transfer point to bus service into southern Scarborough. This was certainly true before the subway opened, but not today. The 12 Kingston Road bus is not exactly a trunk route, and it doesn’t go very far anyhow.
I have said many times in the past especially when they had tried splitting the 501 into 2 routes, that what should happen is the 501 should be shortened. It should only run from Humber loop to Woodbine loop, or Sunnyside loop to Neville Park. Then the 508 should run all day 7 days a week from downtown to Long Branch via King. In the east the 502/503 should run all day 7 days a week also. By doing that it would provide relief to the Queen car on both sides as well as the King car thereby allowing those lines to be better managed. The 508/503 could provide relief to the the 504 and parts of the 501 and the 502 could help provide relief to the 501 service. I know it would be a lot easier if we had a lot more of the new streetcars but to me this is an option the TTC should consider.
Steve: There are various arrangements possible for a split Queen service, but I think one key point is to maintain an overlap between Roncesvalles and Humber if the routes are going to diverge at that point. This would ensure that through connections remain possible even if a Queen car is short-turned rather than creating an inevitable gap between services. Back when 507 Long Branch was a separate route, it was not uncommon for people to languish at Humber and at Ronces hoping for a Queen car that would actually make it to the end of the line.
Why not simply combine the 502 and 503 into one route and use the 503’s route, but with the 502’s peak and midday service? Cars would end at York, not McCaul. Could this help improve service?
Or the 502 could end at Victoria and Queen. Westbound cars could go south on Church, west on Richmond, and north on Victoria, before heading eastbound on Queen Street. It’s only one short block from Yonge Street, so I don’t see the big issue, especially once Presto is fully operational (i.e. the Presto card can provide a paperless transfer, so this type of transfer – one where a person has to walk a block between routes – should not be an issue, although the TTC does have a couple exemptions already for this type of transfer between two routes that do not have a ‘direct’ connection.)
Steve: I am not sure whether the better western terminus is McCaul or York. The former has the advantage that it’s an off-street loop where a car can wait for its departure time, whereas sitting on York Street simply gets in the way of traffic. Service design on King will be affected next year when the Cherry Street service begins, and adding an all-day 503 on top of this may be a bit much for one already-busy street.
As for Victoria, this has several drawbacks. A walking transfer is a pain in the ass for anyone who doesn’t know how the route works, and it avoids sharing load with the Queen car for the common part of the route from downtown to Kingston Road. Also there is the same problem of an on street layover that I mentioned for York Street, and this would likely see cars depart as soon as they arrived regardless of any desire for on time (or “on headway”) performance. Finally, the inevitable result of a Victoria terminus is that short turned cars would never reach downtown.
I remember the Kingston Road streetcar running along the entire stretch of King Street, looping within the Roncesvalles caryard. That was when they had the full 745 PCC fleet to work with. Likely, we’ll have to have a good and fit fleet of streetcars available before we can consider making any extensions to the 502 or 503 lines.
Still bothers me that the TTC uses the old city of Toronto borders as a great wall that prevents extending some of TTC for better service.
Steve, this is a concern, overall, with the new streetcars. Because they are longer than the ALRV and are not replacing the current CLRV and ALRV on a 1:1 ration, headways are likely to be affected and drive people away. Longer vehicles are great on routes that operate every 5 minutes, as they increase the capacity on a route that likely cannot handle more vehicles, but it does not apply to every route in my opinion. And longer waiting times may affect the 502/503 even more.
Steve: The TTC has relented somewhat, and will not be replacing cars on a capcity-for-capacity basis given the long backlog in unmet demand. If we ever see those extra 60 cars, the headways will be the same as today, but with larger vehicles. That’s the plan, anyhow.
Seeing the TTC does not want to do a drop back system with their operators, there will be waiting on the street instead. If they operated with a drop back system, then a new operator would take the car out as soon as it arrives – no need for a long wait (i.e. more than a few minutes.) Also, what I was suggesting was essentially getting rid of the 502, and run the 503 during the midday, not increased 503 service, although it might help – trips from Bingham could alternate between the 502 and 503.
As for Victoria, I don’t see it as a big issue, it’s an educational issue. Put up information in Queen station, and at Victoria/Queen, plus on their website. The website and Queen station can have permanent information if required. Maybe it’s just me. As for the sharing load on Queen, I don’t think the TTC really cares – look at how bad the 501 is operated and the fact that the TTC won’t consider any changes that might work.
Steve: You assume all the service will actually reach Victoria. Also, as I said before, turning there misses stops at University and Bay which are not exactly trivial, and reduces the 502 service to something only people who actually want a Kingston Road car will use, rather than one which can provide fill-in service on Queen.
Well, Sunnyside Loop is probably easier for the TTC to use, but again this means doing something different. And the TTC doesn’t want to consider anything different.
Steve: It is actually easier to loop through the carhouse because this avoids left turns through Queen/Ronces. Also Sunnyside may contain a lurking Queen car waiting for its time. In any event, restoring service to that end of King with the 503 isn’t going to happen. This whole area makes more sense with a west-end service such as improved 508 Lake Shore.
That said, I think the idea itself is worth thinking about. Certainly there would seem to be a lot more potential for growth north of Queen. I would not be surprised at all to see Kingston as decidely more significant thirtyish years from now. In the (very) long run I could well imagine what is now Queen operating something more like Kingston/Queen Kennedy Station to Roncessvalles or Dundas West, Long Branch via Lakeshore and Queens Quay or Bremner to Union and a Beaches car that looks more like today’s Kingston overlay than the trunk line.
The route performance on Kingston Road is why I am very skeptical of the 507-to-Dundas-West idea. Riders on Lake Shore aren’t going to use this route to get to the subway; they’ll use any one of the frequent N-S bus lines. That leaves a notionally-improved service on Lake Shore as the “improvement” we’re looking for, but as we can see Kingston Road is (or at least was) a total botch despite a relative lack of traffic issues.
By the way, service on the old LONG BRANCH route wasn’t reliably reliable back in the PCC days either….
Steve: Yes, in the PCC days, the operators at times made up the schedule rather like the even older Rogers Road car.
The idea of sending the 507 to Dundas West is not to provide a subway connection to Lake Shore, but to supplement the spotty service on Ronces, and to give some padding to protect the connection at Queen even if a car is short turned at the carhouse. With the increased running time and long layovers by 504 cars at Dundas West, this may no longer be practical.
Running time on both routes is atrocious, a major flaw to the point that operators and supervisors have given up. The fact that even Steve notes that they are “minor” routes is reflected in the fact that they are included with other major routes on separate CIS consoles. At one time there were 2 supervisors at Russell for SAC and 1 would take care of both with operator change overs but cutbacks have removed this supervisor. Further cutbacks to CIS consoles have made the situation worse. Stealing from Peter to pay no one never wins.
I am not sure how you would get this service across the downtown though. I think to make this really work, I believe you would need to arrange some kind of closed ROW, or it would suffer huge service issues.
What about only operating the cars from Bingham to Queen/Kingston? If people have to transfer anyway, why not transfer earlier on the Queen car. Would probably be easier to keep Kingston road service on time.
I still think they should abandon the 502/503, put the tracks back on Coxwell and reconvert the 22A. To me frequent service on Kingston road would make a transfer at Queen trivial but then again I don’t live in the area so I’d be curious to know what the residents would want.
Steve: A shuttle has the inevitable problem of needing to connect with something in all sorts of weather at a location that is not set up for that type of service. And connecting anywhere with the Queen car is not exactly a “trivial” undertaking.
Also, as I have mentioned in other replies, this also reduces the service to something that only serves Kingston Road, not Queen. Converting the 22 back to a streetcar is not practical given the geometry and structure of Coxwell Station.
The 507 [via Queen]/508 [via King] should mirror the 502 [via Queen]/503 [via King] routes providing relief to the King [Dundas West to Broadview] and Queen [Neville Park to Humber/Parklawn (if built)] streetcar routes.
In an ideal world: (I realize some of the trackage below doesn’t exist)
The 507 [Long Branch via Queen to Wolseley Loop (with an added EN/SW turn)]/508 [Long Branch via King to Cherry?] should have a mirror on the opposing side with 502 [Bingham to McCaul via Queen] and 503 [Bingham to York via King] but at proper headways. They would thus be the 504 Relief (508/503) and 501 Relief (507/502) leaving the Queen car to amble about between Park Lawn (if built)/Humber/Sunnyside and/or Neville Park.
Sorry for feeling compelled to draw lines on a map, but I can appreciate the symmetry. I ride the streetcar network predominantly, and can clearly see how the 501/504 lines serve multiple common origin/destination patterns within their respective corridors.
i.e. Queen from Roncesvalles to Bathurst … Queen from Dufferin to Yonge … Queen from Neville Park to University … Queen from Broadview to Dufferin … -or- bidirectionally along Broadview or Roncesvalles (off at Qn or at Subway Station); King East to Bathurst … King West to Yonge
Relief for these trunk lines is imperative; we need more cars for more service along Lakeshore and along Kingston. If streetcars are to be represented as the ‘solution’ for high density/high demand urban services (which is what most of the network purports to serve) then service levels must be up to snuff.
Once a week I’m at Kingston/Scarborough, and I know in the morning that there is a better-than-average probability that my KINGSTON ROAD car will short turn before ever reaching Kingston Road; which is completely absurd.
Steve: I understand your love of symmetry, but a Long Branch car to Wolseley is of little use to many riders who are destined further east. At a minimum, the line has to cross downtown and connect with the subway.
Re: converting 22 COXWELL back to streetcars and it’s impracticality:
Is part of the issue the narrowness of Strathmore? It was widened for the buses and I would figure the Flexities would have no problem taking the turns. I suppose the only way the current structure could be used would be to extend the platform further south over a part of the parking lot next to it. Either that, or build a separate loop on TTC property on the south side of Danforth (practically where the original streetcar loop was!) and build a tunnel walkway connection to the subway and buses.
Steve: The loop itself is very tight. Also, I doubt the structure below could support the load of streetcar tracks and vehicles. This is one of those proposals, similar to reactivating the Parliament streetcar, that looks nice on a map, but runs into serious obstacles with stations that were designed for buses. Also, if either of these were very frequent bus routes, then it might (stress on “might”) be worth a look, but we have far more important things to worry about such as Waterfront East.
At the end of one comment you are saying that the 507 to Dundas West is not about connection to the subway, but if it goes east then it ‘must’ connect – why, Steve? I would prefer McCaul Loop, as passengers could disembark at Queen and McCaul and walk the short distance to the subway if they need to catch the subway (although from the Lake Shore, it might be easier to simply take the bus up to the Bloor-Danforth line then to take the streetcar to University Ave.) I prefer a bus/streetcar passing by a subway stop, but I don’t see why it has to do so. Sorry about the rant, but I wonder if local users along Kingston Rd./Queen St. E. would not, like those on the Lake Shore in Etobicoke, not benefit from a reliable local service over an inadequate service that may pass by a subway stop when it bothers to show up.
Steve: A short distance from McCaul to the subway?
The challenge is to fix the service so that it operates properly on Kingston Road and on Queen, not gerrymander it to suit your idea of a convenient way to run things. This is not impossible, but you prefer to create new problems rather than solving the ones we already have.
My preference for Dundas West has been explained before: to supplement service on Ronces, and to give padding so that if a “507” is short turned, it still connects with services at Queen & Roncesvalles.
Please consider this conversation closed.
Waterfront East will run into a similar issue will it not – in that the Union loop is not designed to handle enough cars. Since I think both Waterfront East, including something to the beaches will eventually be required, as well as more service extending further west (CNE and beyond) will need to be supported, this is a major issue. Will this not require substantial reconfiguration of the platform/loop, or even another loop? I really hope that the DRL when built ensures that the stations make substantial allowance for the addition of streetcar &/or LRT in their design (even if this is something to be completed afterwards).
If Toronto is to grow without massive additional sprawl, there will likely be a need to support something beyond bus, in areas beyond the current streetcar network. A Lawrence, and York Mills station – should have support for an LRT loop – and more of the BDL stations should be examined for this as well – like Kennedy and Warden, Kipling and Islington. While Streetcars / LRT may not be in the cards now in all these areas, they should be part of a long term plan to support growing density, and a shift to a much larger transit share.
PS When I refer to Lawrence and York Mills Station – I am making reference to the ones that would be on a DRL Long.
Steve: First off, there is already a plan to expand Union. The real debate is “how much” and “reasonably, how much demand can it support”. This gets tangled up with the Bremner streetcar issue. There is a plan for the WWLRT serving south Parkdale and beyond, but as I have said before, there is also the question of what point demand from southern Etobicoke should really be on GO Transit/RER to the extent it would serve core-bound traffic. To the east, the Great Gulf/Unilever site would be served by both GO, SmartTrack and a future DRL. I’m not sure about the Beach. The demand is on either side of Queen, not further south, and I see little benefit in a “bypass” streetcar line that would enter downtown via Leslie and Commissioners, at least in the short term. Longer term, track will probably be built east on Commissioners from the new Villiers Island and the Cherry Street line (extended south to the Ship Channel).
Are you aware that both Kennedy and Kipling were designed for LRT? Kennedy, as we know, got the RT, but the upper level including the loop was intended for an LRT line using CLRVs. As for Kipling, that long glass wall on the south side of the bus platform would have been beside the LRT track for a line, wait for it, to the airport.
In all cases I am concerned primarily with protecting the options in the longer term. I can also see the potential for eventual increase in density south of Queen – that would add a lot of traffic there, and eventually require another option.
Yes, I knew they had made allowances in their original design. However, I worry a great deal about these options being closed out with new plans especially at Kennedy. I do not believe a subway extension will remove the need for an LRT link – although this will depend on what is ultimately done. The potential for LRT at Kipling was something that needs to be protected for the longer term. This also required somebody actually doing something to protect potential ROW as well.
If the Port Lands gets redeveloped and in need of public transit, I could see the 502/502 using Leslie Street a a south connection to Commissioners Street and/or Unwin Avenue, before continuing on downtown. Maybe even using a Coxwell Avenue connection with Lake Shore Blvd. E. over to Leslie Street. If they go with wide stop spacing using reserved streetcar right-of-ways, it may even be faster run than using Queen Street.
Steve: Actually the proposed route is via Leslie and Commissioners. There is already track on Leslie, and Commissioners will be the centre of a future development area in the “studio district”. Unwin is too far south as there are no plans to take streetcars across the ship channel (it would require a lift bridge that could interrupt service).
Steve the one nagging issue I have with relying GO for southern Etobicoke -in the longer term, is that while new switches, electrification, and capacity increases at Union and/or a new station should allow the rail to be fully used, I worry that -given that we are now at what 7-8 trains now peak hour – that 12 trains/hour may be fully consumed before they get as far as Mimico. While this sounds vaguely ridiculous (12 trains per hour at nearly 2000 passengers each being fully used) continued intensification of the area south of Highway 5 / Dundas west of Toronto and improved transit in Mississauga and Oakville, this may be an issue in the longer term – although one hopes that this will result in better bi-directional use as well.
However, if the western shoulder area of downtown continues to develop it is hard to see how a streetcar /single car LRT would have capacity to support much further west than Parkside or how a multi-car LRT could be reasonably done – given the current constraints. Hopefully, there will be a new answer before this becomes an issue.
Steve: Another variant is the western end of the DRL, but that has a lot of competing map-drawers hard at work mainly on areas further northwest.
Steve said: “Another variant is the western end of the DRL, but that has a lot of competing map-drawers hard at work mainly on areas further northwest.”
It might make a viable place to anchor a service for southern Etobicoke, as long as it had a real link to the Queensway ROW.
Steve: As long as Etobicoke does not feel slighted by having a revised “508” connect with a DRL at, say, the CNE or Liberty Village, rather than a transfer-free ride, this could work. Otherwise it’s the Sarborough RT/LRT/subway debate all over again.
As a frequent user of the 502 service, thank you for the analysis. There have been many times when I see the service has been short turned and TranSee has been a great help with that while waiting at Bingham Loop. The service during mid spring and you may have caught it, was particularly bad. Every time I departed on a 502 from Bingham, I was booted off at Broadview. There were only a few instances in which a 501 car was behind. During the severe cold and several weeks back when buses were used, I actually found the service to be more reliable and quick. In your opinion, would it be a better option to rid ourselves of the streetcars and just implement a bus service until more of the Flexities arrive and re-instate them seeing as the track infrastructure has already been completed?
Steve: It is not a question of the vehicle, but of the schedule and the line management. What you experienced was a triumph of trying to keep operators “on time” at all costs and to hell with the riders. The TTC does this sort of thing very well with buses too.
Yes, however, I suspect that if the TTC would not engage in the behaviour discussed in the comment from Sean and your response, this would be less on an issue – even in Scarborough. I am always amazed that people are so transfer averse – until I remind myself of the experience they are likely having. If you were accustomed to all buses/streetcars going through and running to headway (at least on a 10 minute or better route) you would not be as averse to transfers.
However, as you noted previously with regards to the destruction of ridership on the Bathurst car, poor line management, and sparse service – makes transit (other than subway) much less attractive. If such a service was properly managed and service on the subway reasonably frequent – this should be a non issue (however, those are huge conditions). When service is that poor at the outer ends of the line, it should be a surprise that those riders feel like they are being treated as second class (even though none of the ridership is actually being considered).
Steve: Some years ago, service on the subway was cut to 7′ headways in the evenings as a cost saving measure. The actual headways were much more ragged with 10′ gaps not uncommon. The subway looks good because the base level of service is always frequent, but there are gaps.
Yes, but when a gap is 10 minutes off peak, that is much better than a supposed to be 10 minutes service being 20 or 30. Of course because some of the equipment has been allowed to get so old, there are times when the wait is much longer – but at least there is usually a notification of service disruption.