Updated December 12, 2016 at 3:00 pm and at 4:25 pm: Details of the works planned for the west end of the Queen line during 2017 have been added to this article.
The planned service changes for January 2017 bring major restructuring of two routes, and a troubling indicator about the general availability of vehicles for TTC service.
Several routes will have AM peak service cuts because there are not enough buses to operate the service. None of these will push the service over the loading standards, and these could be thought of of “trimming” excessive service. However, the explicit reason given is the lack of buses.
This is partly due to the slow delivery of new streetcars and to the operation of buses on many streetcar routes either to make up for missing fleet, or to cover for construction projects, but also because of additional demands for spare buses for maintenance.
At the time of writing this article, car 4429 is about to leave Thunder Bay. This leaves Bombardier on track if they push out one more car to hit their much-revised delivery target for 2016. However, the rate of deliveries is not expected to speed up until the second quarter of 2017 and so it will be some time before we see streetcars return across the system.The shortage is partly due to late deliveries and partly to the increased need for cars in maintenance for rehabilitation pending receipt of more Flexitys.
As of January, the following routes or portions of routes are operating with buses:
- 502 Downtowner and 503 Kingston Road
- 501 Queen (bus operation west of Sunnyside Loop to Long Branch)
- 504 King (bus trippers)
- 511 Bathurst
Effective January 8, 2017, the 501 Queen service will operate with streetcars only between Sunnyside Loop and Neville Loop. A bus service will run from Long Branch Loop via Lake Shore, Windermere, The Queensway, Queen and Dufferin to Dufferin Loop. The same arrangement will be in place for night service, and so riders bound west of Roncesvalles will have to transfer to the night bus.
Beginning in the spring, The Queensway right-of-way will be rebuilt over its entire length including the bridge at the Humber River, the “Long Branch” side of Humber Loop will be rebuilt, as will the track from Humber Loop west to Dwight and Lake Shore (just at the point where Lake Shore straightens out). Streetcar service is not expected to resume until
late in 2017 January 2018.
Update: The timing for various components of this project, tentatively, is:
- Queensway track from Claude to Humber Loop will be rebuilt in concrete rather than with open ballast as at present. This work will occur over much of the construction season.
- City work on the Humber River bridge will also run through the construction season.
- Track on Lake Shore from Humber Loop to Dwight will be replaced in the spring.
- A new substation will be installed at Humber Loop in the summer.
- Track at Humber Loop and through the tunnel to Lake Shore will be replaced in the late summer and fall.
- There are no plans at this point to change the stop at Parkside Drive which is not accessible.
Further to the above, the TTC advises that “most of the track work west of Humber Loop is the replacement of the rail and top layer of concrete only, and so the alignment does not change.”
[Thanks to Scott Haskill at the TTC for these details.]
A separate project to rebuild and reconfigure The Queensway east of Parkside to Roncesvalles, including replacement of the intersection and the junctions with the carhouse, is planned for 2019.
Concurrent with this change, some of the bus trippers on 504 King will revert to streetcar operation. Also, the 80A Queensway service to Keele Station will operate at all hours rather than cutting back to Humber Loop to preserve a connection with the 501 Queen bus service.
Metrolinx Construction on the Eglinton LRT
This project continues to affect more routes whose schedules have been adjusted mainly by giving more running time and stretching headways.
The major change in this regard is that the 25 Don Mills route will be split on weekdays at Don Mills Station into two separate routes so that construction delays on the south end of the line do not affect service north of Sheppard. The service levels on the 25 Don Mills local buses and 185 Don Mills Rockets have been slightly adjusted to reflect greater demand on the locals.
When was the last time Queensway trackage rebuilt? It seems not so long ago…
Steve: There have been local repairs but not complete end-to-end reconstruction since the late 1990s.
Hi Steve, do you know what the plans are for the Parkside Drive stop? Last I remember there were some accessibility concerns due to the only access being stairs. Thanks.
Steve: I will have to check on this.
Some of these changes the TTC made is clever. I like how the TTC would split service on some long routes and full service restored on 80 Queensway to Keele station. Since numerous diversions in the downtown, including the 501 Queen watermin work has ended, I’m assuming that the TTC ridership would regain. Oh, and the TTC forgot to restore full service for 115 Silver Hills.
So what will happen to the Humber Loop after January 8th?
Steve: It appears that the only service that will remain at Humber Loop will be the 66 Prince Edward Bus. I am awaiting info from the TTC on details of the timing for various parts of the project on the west end of 501 Queen.
Hi Steve, could you clarify what the light grey in the construction chart means versus the black band. Thanks!
Steve: Where the TTC has announced a definite end date for a project, I use a black band. When it is less firm, as in “mid 2017”, I use grey.
Last that I heard this would fall under an AODA exception (O. Reg. 413/12, s. 6, 80.31) as “not practicable to comply with the requirements, or some of them, because existing physical or site constraints prohibit modification or addition of elements, spaces or features, such as where increasing the width of the exterior path would narrow the width of the adjacent highway”. There was more talk of eliminating the stop than making it accessible.
Where would people be going that’s not more accessible from Glendale (for the north) or Colborne Lodge (for the south)? Transferring to the 80 bus?
Steve: I have asked the TTC for an update on this among other matters relating to the overall project.
They could always eliminate the Parkside Drive overpass entirely and replace with a level intersection. Maybe even reconnect the Indian Road fork in the road with Parkside Drive, and get access to The Queensway (originally Queen Street West) from Parkside Drive. That would make ambulance access to the St. Joseph Health Care Centre much better.
Nah. Would cost too much. As if the construction of the overpass wasn’t a big expense in the 1950’s.
I’m puzzled by the rebuild on Lake Shore, Humber loop to Dwight. I thought that was done as part of the big rebuild around 2007. Possibly the tracks are being relocated, as a dedicated two-way bicycle lane is being installed on the south side of Lake Shore east from Dwight to someplace or another in Mimico. Are there any more details of what the rebuild will involve?
Steve: There is enough room on this part of Lake Shore that it will not require any major shift in the location of the streetcar tracks. Also, I note it’s a residential area and so there are no merchants to kvetch about lost parking in front of their stores.
In a further update, Scott Haskill advises that this is job will involve only replacement of the track and top level of concrete, not a full rebuild, and therefore the track is not being shifted.
So what streets the 501 Marine Parade-Windermere buses would serve?
Steve: The official routings for the two bus operations on Queen West are:
Darn that didn’t run the 501L buses up Roncesvalles to the Dundas West Subway Station. Left turns from The Queensway would be a problem.
Would the Humber loop be fully rebuilt for the 2017 season?
Steve: If you read the article, you would see that the west end of 501 Queen is not planned to reopen until January 2018. Construction will finish in the late fall, but the schedule change won’t kick in until the new year.
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40 minute frequency on 11A Bayview on Sunday morning? It’s supposed to be at maximum 30 minute headway.
Steve: That 30 minute max seems to have fallen off of the table for routes with branches.
Really, the TTC needs to focus on keeping 30 minute max headways for routes.
I’d still rather one bus every 40 minutes then one bus never… If the policy is too inflexible, then we get to the point of offering no service. However, Sunday service is still treated as an afterthought. I use the 11 to visit the Odette Centre fairly regularly, so having a combined service less than 30 minutes, but each greater than 30 minutes is still preferable to one solid route with just 30 minute service.
Steve, why on Earth can’t the TTC bring back streetcar service as soon as the work is done? It makes absolutely no sense that they have to wait for some specific interval. It’s not like they don’t know when the scheduled completion date would be by the previous schedule change date.
Steve: The TTC has been burned by late construction projects a lot in recent time, notably on Queen. Scheduling is locked down at least two months before the change appears on the street, and reinstatement of streetcar service on paper that becomes impossible in practice would be a major headache. The controlling factor is probably work on the Humber River bridge by the city.
All that said, there does seem to be less regard for transit riders than one would expect in a “pro-transit” city. There will be a long shutdown in 2019 for work at Queen & Roncesvalles and west to Parkside. I can’t think of a better way to drive down ridership on the west end of the route than to repeatedly screw up its service.
Steve said: That 30 minute max seems to have fallen off of the table for routes with branches.
To call the 11A a branch of the 11 is like calling all stations north of Lawrence “a branch of Line 1.” That reduction in service leaves a major corridor through North York below the minimum service standard.
Steve said: the explicit reason given [for “service trimming”] is the lack of buses.
Steve, do you really buy that? I believe that lack of vehicles is part of the problem, but for the second period in a row we see tweaking that is focused on service reductions. As Tory flaunts the “reduced budgets don’t mean reduce service” mantra surrounding the city budget, service *is* being reduced in real terms. And this is irrespective of the ignored crowding standards that Ben Spurr outed in the wake of the last round of cuts.
Steve: I said it was the reason given, not that I agreed with it. The TTC is trimming service wherever it can, and the “bus shortage” is as much about freeing up spares for maintenance.
Wasn’t 501 Queen shut down west of Humber Loop for nearly a year quite recently? Between 2015-19 inclusive, I wonder if Queen will operate cars end-to-end for even 50% of the 5 year calendar.
One reason I was given for service shortages also has to do with the number of firings of operators involved in a financial scam.
Steve: That would likely be the health care benefits fraud that was uncovered earlier this year.
What divisions will operate the 501 bus?
Steve: According to the TTC’s service memo:
Wow! It’s hard to believe that the Wilson division would operate from Mississauga/Etobicoke on the 501 Queen peak trips to Scarborough on 169 Huntingwood.
In previous bustitutons on Lake Shore, the main 501L would run to and from Humber loop via Park Lawn and The Queensway. In that case, 501M buses would service Lake Shore east of Park Lawn where there would not be any service, looping via Marine Parade. (I never took one of these buses, so not really sure whether the looping was clockwise or counter-clockwise.)
In the upcoming diversion, the 501M buses seem to be there to help residents along Lake Shore to reach the shops on The Queensway just west of Humber loop. However, the one-way loop setup, making you travel via Windermere, and the likely lousy traffic, doesn’t make it seem very promising a ride.
Interestingly, there’s an unmarked bus loop basically across from the shops, north side of The Queensway at High Street. I wonder why the 501M doesn’t just run to and from this loop. Or even use the bus loop at Humber loop for turnback….as far as I know the 66 will continue using it, so it won’t be closed. Why fight across the bridge? Unless that is to help condo residents on the east side of the Humber bridge make it west? Still seems like a long and slow ride.
I used to live in the condos east of the Humber bridge and regularly used 501 to get to the Sobeys and other shops. The traffic on The Queensway and Lake Shore isn’t that bad. It would be mostly used outside of peak periods, anyway.
I thought you reported last year that the intersection track replacement was suppose to be done in 2017.
Do you know why did they deferred it to 2019?
Steve: To co-ordinate the work with other City projects.
Queensway track from Claude to Humber Loop will be rebuilt in concrete rather than with open ballast as at present. This work will occur over much of the construction season.
The TTC’s pointless obsession continues…
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If they’re going with concrete for the Queensway streetcar right-of-way, that means croncrete as well for the surface light rail right-of-way for the Crosstown LRT and other Transit City lines as well.
Where’s the logic for that? The roadway is wide enough for emergency vehicles to squeeze through. Never seen a problem with traffic blocking them on the Queensway even now.
Steve: I think that the TTC would rather not have ties and ballast to keep realigning. Look at how the carhouse trackage has been rebuilt at Ronces and Russell, not to mention Leslie Barns.
As for the LRT lines, their design is up to Metrolinx.
Can’t wait for the first cars to start driving on the ROW and get stuck somewhere in a tunnel.
I hope TTC plans to rebuild Humber loop with concrete too that would allow buses to right through to Lake Shore in the future. This would be nice if when buses are used as a substitute on Lake Shore.
Cars have periodically been known to enter the open ballast portion of the Queensway ROW. The results were as inconvenient to 501 riders as cars stuck in tunnels.
It’s not unknown for streetcars running on concrete-embedded tracks to sway and bump where the rails get out of whack. In fact, many small repairs have been done along Lake Shore during one of the interminably many bustitutions. This requires jackhammering out the concrete for a lesser or greater area.
Given that The Queensway has fairly high running speeds (except of course for creeping across intersections), my question would be, is there any fundamental reason why concrete-embedded rails would stay aligned and smooth better than tied-and-ballasted rails? At least ballasted rail can be fixed without bring jackhammers and cement trucks. Given that railways manage to keep rail aligned under much heavier service than a few streetcars per hour, I wonder why the TTC hates ballasted rail.
Well, I also notice, the crossovers on either side of St. George on the University line are ballasted….
The TTC could also consider splitting 54 Lawrence East at Lawrence East station with one going from Eglinton Station to Lawrence East station and the other from Lawrence East station to Starspray to provide reliable service during Eglinton Crosstown construction.
The 501L buses should go up to Dundas West Station. The 504 is slow on Roncevalles, mostly at night. And the 501M buses have to go to Humber Loop and ” share ” the 66A platform, it makes alot more sense for those going to the Sobeys plaza. If the 80B shared the 66A platform, then so can the 501L.
That’s a counter-clockwise loop. The TTC website shows a clockwise loop for the 501M on the same streets.
Is this a mistake? If not, how will the 501M turn left from Lakeshore Westbound onto Marine Parade? It’s impossible! Lakeshore Westbound has no access to the eastern end of Marine Parade. It’s in the stretch where Lakeshore and the Expressway are setup in a frontage road configuration.
Steve: The map is wrong. Read the routing carefully. The westbound bus will take the exit ramp the comes out onto Lake Shore opposite Brookers Lane where there is a traffic signal and provision for turns to the east. It will then run east on Lake Shore to Marine Parade Drive and around that loop.
I received a flyer from info staff at Humber loop today. It has the same map as the TTC’s website.
I find the following bit interesting:
PRESTO: sometimes you tap; sometimes you don’t; sometimes both readers on a vehicle are out of order (I see that enough on Queensway division buses) and You Win Presto Lotto!
501M buses can’t go through Humber loop. The only possible bus routing is eastbound in, westbound out. Buses can’t enter the loop westbound, nor exit eastbound. Which is why the no-name loop at High St. and The Queensway exists.
I see that, according to this report, all runs of 509 HARBOURFRONT are now with Flexity LRVs, meaning that two routes are now fully accessible. Is this the case?
Only 1 run of 514 CHERRY is scheduled with a Flexity, and 22 appear to be scheduled for service during peak hours. However, the TTC is currently testing the 30th Flexity LRV as we speak (#4430). So that’s 8 spares on a fleet of 30, or just over a quarter. Is that a normal spare ratio?
As more cars are delivered (any sign of #4431), I assume they’ll be assigned to 514 CHERRY first, and then to 511 BATHURST?
Steve: Just because the schedule says Flexity doesn’t mean that they are. The important point is that they could be, if available, and operators signing onto these crews must be trained on the new cars. At present it istypical to see four Flexitys on Harbourfront and two on Cherry, but the number varies. The next route once 509 and 514 are fully converted will be 505 Dundas, contrary to earlier plans to move to 511 Bathurst.
Today (Christmas) there are 22 vehicles in service out of the available 29. Note that this being a holiday, no vehicles are reserved for training (the usual setup is that four are held for this). This is a rare case when all runs of 509 Harbourfront are Flexitys. Meanwhile, Cherry has the usual two.
The new Flexity streetcars continue to arrive in Toronto, slowly and surely. The first route is now fully converted to them is the “510 Spadina”, and the “509 Harbourfront” will soon be, early in 2017, and later in the year the new “514 Cherry” route. What will be the next route to become fully converted to the new Flexities?
Steve: 505 Dundas.
Meanwhile, the TTC continues to run shuttle buses on its “511 Bathurst” route, between Bathurst Station and the Princes’ Gates loop (due to a current shortage of streetcars). When are streetcars expected to return to “511 Bathurst” – hopefully in time for the Artist Project (at the Better Living Centre)? At the same time, construction continues on the Exhibition loop and the retaining wall between the loop and the Exhibition GO train station. Are the “509 Harbourfront” streetcars still turning back at the Fleet Street “Lighthouse” loop?
Steve: The 509 turnbacks are supposed to end after January 20 assuming there isn’t yet another delay. A date for the resumption of streetcar service on 511 Bathurst has not yet been announced.
Resumption of streetcar service at Exhibition Loop now scheduled for 25 March 2017.
Steve: They don’t exactly appear to be rushing. Much of the track was already in when I photographed the loop in the fall, but the reference to “drainage” in the notice implies that something else is afoot. Meanwhile, I am sure the TTC is glad of any excuse to take streetcars off of Bathurst and increase the number of spares through the winter.
Also interesting that the service notice for 511 Bathurst still cites the January 20 date for resumption of service to Exhibition Loop.
For those who may be interested, upon checking the crews and schedules, all of the 301 Blue Night Buses will be operated by Mt. Dennis Division. Otherwise Steve’s information is correct.
Steve: It’s not “my” information, but the TTC’s.
Today there is an unexpected diversion of the 501 because Queen is closed between Parliament and Sherbourne. The TTC is diverting not using Parliament, but instead via the Queen/King intersection. Is there any particular reason beyond “it’s easier that way”?
Steve: I have no idea. The delay was at Sherbourne — the Sherbourne bus was also diverted, but not the Parliament bus.
The TTC continues to run shuttle buses on its “511 Bathurst” route, between Bathurst Station and the loop located just outside the Princes’ Gates. When are streetcars expected to make their (triumphant) return to this route, and will they include some Flexity Outlooks?
Steve: There is no date yet for streetcars returning to 511 Bathurst. Also the next route for Flexitys is 505 Dundas once 509 Harbourfront and 514 Cherry are fully converted.
Today, I rode one of the shuttle buses on the “511 Bathurst” route, to go check out the No Small Skirmish exhibit at the Fort York Visitor Centre. It looks like these shuttle buses, which have been running on this route since Sunday, November 20, 2016, may be sticking around as late as July 2017 – and streetcars to return just in time for the tourist season and especially the Canadian National Exhibition.