The new route 514 Cherry began operation on Sunday, June 19, 2016. The route is effectively a scheduled short-turn of 504 King operating between Distillery Loop (Cherry & Mill Streets) in the east and Dufferin Loop (Exhibition West Entrance) in the west.
Service on 504 King itself has been reduced to provide the resources (operator hours) for the new route. During peak periods, this effectively converts some of the 504 bus trippers back to streetcars running over more-or-less the same territory. Outside of the peak, the 514 Cherry runs are created by widening headways on the full 504 King route and overlaying the 514 service.
The 514 Cherry cars run over a notorious section of King Street where running times can vary immensely (see charts in my recent article about stop removals), and this variation is an all-day problem with many seasonal and event-specific triggers.
This article reviews the new route’s operation for its first 12 days. I will update this review when additional data are available as the year progresses. A related issue will be the degree to which, if at all, the 514 cars blend with the 504 King service and the actual combined level of service between Dufferin and Sumach compared to the pre-514 Cherry era.
Only two small parts of the route are separate from King Street itself:
- Sumach and Cherry Street south from King to Distillery Loop
- Dufferin south from King to Dufferin Loop
The Cherry branch is intended to serve the developing eastern part of the Distillery District which is just becoming occupied after its use as the Athletes’ Village for the Pan Am Games. Substantial additional development is planned here over the coming years, and eventually the route could be extended south to link with a reconfigured Queens Quay East and the Port Lands redevelopment.
The scheduled service is every 8-9 minutes peak, every 12 minutes Saturday afternoons, and every 14-15 minutes at all other times. Any irregularity in headways can lead to long waits defeating the attractiveness of this service.
Service at Mill Street northbound (just leaving Distillery Loop) shows a wide variation in headways, and the standard deviation of the headways for weekday service is regularly at or above 6 minutes. This means that a substantial share of the headways lie in a range at least 12 minutes wide. This is vastly beyond the TTC’s goal for service reliability at terminals. The situation on Saturday is slightly better with SDs in the 2-6 minute range, but the Sunday stats are the worst of all. Note that these numbers include only one Saturday and two Sundays with an infrequent service. Therefore the number of observations per hour is small.
At Dufferin Loop (measured at Springhurst, the street immediately north of the loop), the situation is slightly better, but not by much.
Quite evident in the charts is that cars running on very close headways, under five minutes, are not uncommon. For a route with a wider scheduled headway, this means that would-be riders will often see two 514 cars followed by a long gap. If they are simply travelling along the central part of King, this does not matter, but if they actually want to use the stops on Cherry or Dufferin because they live or work nearby, they face an uncertain fate.
A single typical day’s operation shows what these headways look like leaving Distillery Loop.
An urban streetcar line operating at a scheduled headway over 10 minutes is a stretch at the best of time, but when gaps of 20 minutes and more and pairs of cars a few minutes apart are common, this is not an advertisement for TTC service. It’s the sort of thing one uses if it’s there, but otherwise walk. This is also an indictment of whatever might pass for service regulation by the TTC.
The service over the entire route is charted here:
Notable events through the day:
- A bunch of cars travels west from Sumach & King between 6:00 and 6:30 am on headways much closer than scheduled. This is almost certainly due to cars leaving Russell Carhouse late.
- A delay eastbound at Spadina just after 7 am catches this bunch on its return from Dufferin Loop.
- At about 7:35, another westbound car that has just entered service short turns at Spadina and heads east. This appears to be yet another run that entered service late.
- Just after 8:00, a second westbound car short turns at Spadina. After a layover on Charlotte Street, it heads east right behind another 514 car coming from Dufferin.
- Service through the morning and early afternoon continues to be erratic, and four cars short turn at Spadina westbound at various times.
- By the PM peak, some cars are running in pairs that persist over an entire trip.
- Service does not settle down until after 9:00 pm, and even then the spacing is not reliable.
- Throughout the day, most trips manage to take a layover at one or both ends of the route.
- Also throughout the day, locations and time of congestion at intersections (eastbound at Bathurst and at Spadina, westbound at University) are obvious. These are of course problem locations for 504 King cars as well.
An obvious question is whether the cars have enough time in their schedule to make their scheduled trips. The following charts show the running times between Cherry at Mill and Dufferin at Springhurst.
The scheduled round trip times (minutes) for 514 Cherry are:
Period Weekdays Saturdays Sundays AM Peak / Early AM 80 70 70 Midday / Late AM 75 75 75 PM Peak / Afternoon 81 84 75 Early Evening 75 75 60 Late Evening 60 75 60
Allowing for time at the terminals, the actual trip times shown in the charts are generally higher than the schedule provisions. This puts cars off schedule routinely leading both to short turns and to headways dependent on whatever operators choose to achieve, including terminal breaks. Layovers at Dufferin Loop have the advantage of a loo, something that is not available at Distillery Loop.
The 504/514 route overlapping has a bit of a remembrance of the old DUPONT, BAY, and ST. CLAIR overlaps.
It’s interesting that you have conveniently omitted the ridership numbers as there is hardly anyone that ever gets on or off on Cherry street and so the construction of the Cherry street right of way was a terrible waste of money that nobody complained of although everyone complaints about the Scarborough subway extension even though the Scarborough station is expected to be the busiest on all of the Bloor-Danforth Line. I think that it would be wise for the TTC to move the 514 streetcars to 501 and 504 routes as there is almost no one getting on or off on Cherry street and so what a waste!
Steve: I did not “conveniently omit” the numbers because I don’t have them. As you well know, the area this car serves has only just started to be populated, and considerable new construction is expected. Moreover, if Rob Ford had not interfered, we would already have the Queens Quay East line well underway or opened by now with the intent of through-routing the two services and providing good access to the developments on that street. But you see a dastardly plot in everything I write, so I’m hardly going to convince you. Let’s remember, however, that the waterfront will be developed on a large scale long before your town centre sees a subway station, let alone much new development of its own. That’s the private sector talking. They build where there’s a market, and that’s not at STC.
As for “moving” the 514 streetcars, they spend most of their time on the 504 anyhow.
I deliberately took the 514 CHERRY car very recently as a fan trip. I started at Yonge going eastbound at 5 pm rush hour. I had just missed one car when another showed up right behind it. My CLRV car was packed, and I finally got a seat after Jarvis. By Parliament, most passengers had disembarked, but a few hung on through to Sumach. A few went all the way to Distillery Loop. We were not far behind the car ahead, but there was another Cherry car right behind us. A couple got on at Distillery Loop. The car gradually picked up people and at Yonge it was standing room only. Gradually people disembarked, but a fair number intended to go further on King Street, but the car was turning at Dufferin. Most everybody including me got off here.
Not long after, the next Cherry car arrived, and again many disembarked waiting for a 504 KING car. However, the car after that was a short-turn, and it went north on Dufferin. Interestingly, the operator had to manually set the switch. Finally a King car came, and it was quite full. However, by the time it reached Roncesvalles, most had gotten off. When I reached my destination of Howard Park, there were fewish passengers. All the cars were CLRV’s, I did not see the Flexity on the route this day.
So, my observation is that the Cherry cars ought to go through to Roncesvalles and loop there, because so many passengers want to go west of Dufferin.
Another observation from this day and other times, is that motor traffic on King Street is a huge problem between Bathurst and Jarvis. It is slowing down the streetcars to a crawl. Not just rush hour, but afternoons and evenings, too.
More than Yonge/Bloor??
Not even apples and oranges. Cherry Street isn’t even coffee money compared to the Scarborough subway mega millions.
Well, then how about we provide service to that area AFTER that construction has completed?
Well, considering that the density at STC is more than a hundred times what it is around Cherry St, it appears that you are mistaken. And we are confident that our town centre in Scarborough will see a subway station long before there is any DRL, Queens Quay East LRT, or Waterfront West LRT and if you don’t believe me, then just ask Mayor Tory who is by far the most popular mayor in Toronto and who it looks like will win another term with ease.
Steve: You need to look not at the existing density but the planned density. Tory can talk all he likes about the future of STC, the fact is that the developers don’t want to build there, but are clammouring to build on the waterfront. Enjoy your fantasy.
Weekends are no different. Eastbound at Yonge on this Saturday afternoon I saw three 514 cars within a span of about 6 minutes with a lone 504 car between the last two in the convoy. Some westbound cars turning back at Bathurst.
The new services on the 514, 72, and 121 fit right in with the rest of the service the TTC operates.
Steve: To be fair, this was Caribana weekend, and King was in a total mess. However, erratic service on the 514 is common.
It was interesting to see the service on the 514 on Friday, July, 29th. There were three cars in the loop at around 4:20 PM. One run seemed to make an effort an leave on some sort of time. The other two, not really sure what prompted them to leave but their times did not really look like they were based on the schedules.
I also wanted to add something for “Stop the waste: Ridership based transit only” – based on what you have read on this website, don’t you consider your name somewhat ill chosen? Clearly, the subway you back is not based on anything approaching your name.
I don’t debate the value of the core waterfront. SCC has done fairly well up until all this transit confusion, & given the current transit crap connected to it. Amongst its many other shortcomings the RT is a segregated hook that attracts no one.
SCC will certainly be and continue to grow into one of the busiest subway stops in the City. Cost and route can be debated, but to say “developers don’t want to build here” is complete BS and baseless when using results based upon a clunky, poorly routed RT as a selling feature. The current lack of interest has more to do with the RT, City’s lack of vision, and most importantly the confusion over this transit debate.
SCC was approved as a CAR oriented mall on the 401 by the Borough of Scarborough, not the City of Toronto or Metropolitan Toronto. Scarborough tried to force development there by refusing to allow it at Kennedy and Eglinton but it didn’t work. Don’t expect this to be much better. Developers don’t want to build there because people don’t want to be there. It may become a busy transit/subway stop but only because all the bus routes are forced to go there. The Monkees had a song about this, “Daydream Believer.”
CARS to SCC? And by Scarborough Council? Tell us more historical info that means nothing in the future. Did you know there was once horses and buggies throughout the City? All that useless rhetoric to try to paint a hopeless picture off SCC aside lets talk about what works in this City to move forward.
The fact is the RT was and is a complete fail. The technology, the route, the transfer. All major fails which has helped bring us here. When City’s invest properly people want to live there.
Believe it or not developers CURRENTLY HOLD & are waiting for closure around the transit debate for SCC to move forward. Subways stops are HUGE marketing tools in areas which allow high rise development. And much to your disbelief people actually like to live in Scarborough. With more convenient infrastructure to SCC it will be much more attractive for commuters similar to NYCC. If you need a “suburban” comparable.
The Monkey’s are the downtown Politicians who saw their dream to not integrate Scarborough in an effective manner turn into a nightmare. This is just the starting point and if Sheppard can be resolved and Eglinton to UTSC LRT funded Scarborough will have a much brighter future. And that’s all that really matters to Scarborough. The future.
Steve: Scarborough has what it has today because of its past, and if you ignore that, you ignore the fact that many of its problems were from bad decisions taken by Scarborough politicians, not by the people “downtown”. As for developers queuing up to build around STC, all I can say is that the City’s own projections for population on which the Ward Boundary Review was based show very low growth in Scarborough. A few percent, yes, but nothing on the scale we are seeing “downtown”. When the Chief Planner talks about growth in Scarborough, she must be using a separate set of figures compared to the rest of the City’s staff.
I have never once ignored the past of what the ol’ Scarborough council did or did not when it actually matters? What I said was It’s completely irrelevant to what is needed in the future. The ol’ Scarborough council rant just a rant shows up here often when SCC is discussed l& it simply doesn’t matter anymore. The RT deterred commuters & investment, whereas a subway stop will do much better to attract to SCC.
And why compare future SCC growth to downtown? Compare it in the future to NYCC & Islington/Bloor. Nothing wrong with the development in those areas IMO. People love living in these hubs for the great transit access.
When the Chief Planner talk about growth in Scarborough she is using vision, listening to the frustration of the voters out here. Not just using growth figures based on a poorly designed, connected & amputated RT line and the transit desert connected to it. Now SCC will finally be in the best shape possible its finally on to the Sheppard Subway/LRT, Eglinton East LRT & Scarborough-Durham BRT.
Joe, go down to Yonge and Eg. There are many towers already built, several under construction, and quite a few either undergoing planning or sale. Even if we ignore Downtown (Bloor to Lake, Bathurst to Don River), the reality is, people WANT to live at Yonge and Eg. Yes, it has a subway, albeit overcrowded, but it also has the Crosstown incoming. Dining and shopping are readily available locally, and if not, either a short commute by subway or car and you’re where you want to be. Same for all of the towers along Yonge from Sheppard to Finch.
The simple situation is this: if you’re looking for the density of even something like Kipling Station, you simply won’t get it, not at least until the vertical growth moves that far east owing to a lack of space elsewhere. Scarborough Town Centre, while its amenities are certainly adequate for the residents living around there, the area simply isn’t popular with the demographics that would sustain full blown condo growth. Even with the subway, you are still almost an hour away from downtown. At least with Kipling Station, there is an effort to reduce the car-friendliness of it and make it more pedestrian and transit friendly (Six Points redevelopment and Metrolinx Hub), as well as the restaurants and shops on Dundas from Kipling to Islington one can easily walk to.
Joe M, you are welcome to come down to Etobicoke and point out the subway that’s connecting the west side of the Humber mouth to Downtown. Because damned if I can find the station. All I see is a streetcar and a local bus route.
I also fail to understand why you think Scarborough Town Centre ought to have — I think you always says deserves — more development. Do you own some land in the area or what?
Steve: But Ed, don’t you know that the “centre” of Etobicoke is further north? Never mind that people actually want to live by the lake. They don’t count. I still remember the machinations of former Mayor Flynn to get the TTC to give up its interest in the Westwood lands so that “downtown Etobicoke” could grow there. They may have a subway, but it has taken decades to see development, and the equally necessary demolition of the Six Points interchange (and with it the car-oriented mindset of the area) is only now starting.
I recently moved into one of the condos marketed under the name “Canary District” in the West Donlands, on the site of the former Pan-Am Games Athlete’s Village. The buildings started to be occupied back in May. Although 50% of the owners have their keys now (early August), the units are still only 25% occupied because some owners need to wait for the city to register the building before they get title to lease.
The line will also service the George Brown residence (adjacent to the new Cherry St “Y)” when students move in to that dorm building come September. Those studying at the George Brown St James Campus could jump on the 514 to get down to King and Jarvis. So the two stops on the extension off King down Sumach / Cherry to the “distillery loop” will definitely attract more riders in coming months.
There are also parcels of land still to be developed. In terms of comparisons to Scarborough: Because the condo buildings in the West-Don area had to be built quickly to meet the Pan Am delivery deadline, the developer only excavated 1 or 2 parking levels below grade. So the parking spots for residents are limited and many residents have no parking (only purchasers of 2 bedroom or larger units were guaranteed parking). All neighbourhood curbside parking will be TPA metered, because of the popularity of certain events in the nearby Distillery District (like the Christmas Market) to surburbanites who like to drive their cars down. I suspect most residents of condos around the Scarborough Town Center have parking and cars. There are some car share spaces reserved in the parking, but a lot of residents, once settled, will wind up dependent on public transit to get around.
I guess that the rail laying was not done too well!
514 Cherry – Temporary route change
Steve: I believe that the main problem is at the Sumach/King intersection where there has been a slow order for some time, not over the entire route to Distillery Loop.
A related issue is that they have managed to pull down the overhead on several occasions, but I don’t know what is responsible for that or if it is fixed. Also the “transit priority signals” appear to be running on a standard cycle regardless of whether a streetcar is there or not. This intersection has been the source of delays pretty much since June.
It’s probably a bit late to jump on the Scarborough Town Centre rumble, but I just wanted to point out that once the RER to Markham gets built, the Scarborough Town Centre probably won’t see any new development. It simply makes more sense for developers to build at Agincourt instead. It’s at the intersection of two major roads: Sheppard and Kennedy. It’s near the highway. It has a fast, direct transit route to downtown and to the west of the city. It also has a direct transit route north to Markham. It’s simply a better location for new development. It also makes sense for the east GO Transit bus hub and the east Greyhound hub to move from Scarborough Town Centre to Agincourt as well because Agincourt will have better transit connectivity. All the Chinese money will definitely prefer Agincourt over the Town Centre.
You might argue that city council will try to force development in the Town Centre area instead of Agincourt, but the RER changes this dynamic as well because with the RER, developers have the option of just moving up the line a bit and building at Pacific Mall or downtown Markham instead. They’re no longer beholden to restrictive city zoning rules, so the city will have to be more accommodating or lose the new developments entirely.
Really, the main benefit of new development in the Scarborough Town Centre over Agincourt is that the city district offices are there. It might actually be cheaper to move them to Agincourt as well. In fact, I’ve started realizing that it’s a little odd that all the new suggested subways go to politicians’ offices. Like, does it really make sense for the DRL go to an empty lot where all new development is forbidden (i.e. Nathan Phillips Square)?
Anyway, I also wanted to point out that there are suburban centres in the GTA with much less transit connectivity than the Scarborough City Centre which are experiencing much more growth at the moment. Mississauga Square One has much less stuff than SCC, but it has experienced much more development (it was also, admittedly, designed by the most beloved mayor in all of Canada). Victoria Park and Sheppard also seems to be having a mini-boom even though they have no chance at getting a subway any time soon (in fact, I think City Planning screwed up again by allowing too much development near the Don Valley, and it’s now impossible to get a subway there, but we’ll have to see in 30 years). It’s not clear to me that building a subway stop will dramatically spur new development.
Steve: I agree with much of what you say, and so do the projections from City Planning. However, the political order of the day is to pretend that STC will be some future gleaming Oz-like centre. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!