On January 3, 2016, the schedule for route 510 Spadina changed from one based on the use of standard-sized streetcars (the CLRVs) to the new longer low-floor cars (Flexitys or LFLRVs). This article reviews the operation of the line before and after the new schedule.
The revised service provided an increase in capacity with a replacement ratio of new cars for old on a ratio considerably lower than 2:1, and during periods of infrequent service (early weekend mornings, late evenings), the replacement was 1:1.
In brief, the service actually operated on 510 Spadina bears little resemblance to the advertised schedule. Headways (the time between cars) are erratic and often wider than the scheduled values for both the “old” and “new” service designs. The proportion of service operated to the three destinations (King, Queens Quay and Union Station) do not always match the schedule, and indeed during January (when only two destinations are supposed to be in use at any time), service to all three persists just as in December.
However, padding the schedule, a tactic used on other routes to eliminate the need for short turns, is impractical here because terminal congestion with queued vehicles would severely interfere both with passenger travel times and with terminal operations. Unlike a route such as 501 Queen where most riders depart from vehicles before the terminal, 510 Spadina has very strong demand to its destinations at subway stations.
Line management consists of dispatching cars and operators as available, and the service levels on each branch do not match the actual design, notably the proportion of service that should operate on each section of the route. This particularly affects riders south of King and on Queens Quay whose service is erratic and below the advertised level even though the area has a large and growing population.