TTC Streetcars and Buses Swap Routes in February 2018 (Updated Jan. 19, 2017)

The TTC has confirmed the following changes in the allocation of streetcars and buses to various routes effective with the February 18, 2018 schedules:

  • Streetcars will return to 511 Bathurst.
  • The 502 Downtowner bus will continue to operate, but only during peak periods (Bingham Loop to Queen & University).
  • The 503 Kingston Road car, normally a peak only tripper, will operate Monday to Friday peaks and midday (similar to the existing 502). The 503 car will run between Bingham Loop and Charlotte Loop (King & Spadina) to supplement service on King Street.
  • The 505 Dundas and 506 Carlton routes will be converted to bus operation.
  • Updated: The 514 Cherry service will be improved during the off-peak period.

The buses for 505/506 will come from a variety of sources:

  • Existing buses operating on 503 Kingston Road,
  • Tripper buses originally scheduled for 504 King but swapped to 505 Dundas since December, and
  • Buses that have been freed up from construction service and the route reorganization following opening of the Vaughan subway extension.

Both Dundas and Carlton will be affected by planned construction projects this year that would require partial replacement with buses even if there were no streetcar shortage.

  • Main Station construction and Hydro work
  • Broadview Avenue track replacement from south of Dundas to Wolfrey (north end of Riverdale Park) including intersections at Dundas and Gerrard. This will also affect the east end of 504 King.


  • The TTC has confirmed that they are reviewing stops on both routes for the need to remove adjacent parking spaces that would prevent vehicles from pulling in fully to the curb. Bus operation will use the same POP rules as on the streetcar routes.
  • At the TTC Board meeting on January 18, Acting CEO Rick Leary stated that although the bus conversion of 505/506 was originally announced for all of 2018, he hopes that with delivery of new streetcars this can be reversed sometime in the fall.

In other news:

  • Roncesvalles Carhouse will close for the remainder of 2018 for maintenance work, and operations will be centralized at Russell and Leslie.
  • 501 Queen service to Humber Loop is planned to return with the schedule changes planned for May 13, 2018.
  • The King-Queen-Roncesvalles intersection replacement, the associated road reconfiguration and the extension of the right-of-way east from Parkside Drive to Roncesvalles remains in the 2019 schedule.

Even if buses were not filling in for streetcars, the TTC has no plans for bus service increases.

The bus replacement service is not preventing us from making bus improvements. In 2018, we do not have any budget for new improvements. Any improvements we make will be through reallocation. [Email from Stuart Green at the TTC]

More information is expected at the TTC Board Meeting on January 18, 2018. Also, the detailed memo of service changes for February should be out soon, and I will publish the usual condensed version when it is available.

Thanks to Stuart Green at the TTC for the information.

23 thoughts on “TTC Streetcars and Buses Swap Routes in February 2018 (Updated Jan. 19, 2017)

  1. Interesting that they appear to be reversing the service arrangement of the 502 and the 503. Is this likely to be permanent, and a reflection of the increased ridership along King Street?

    Also, is that it for regularly scheduled use of the tracks on Wellington? Is the 503 KINGSTON ROAD TRIPPER’s extension to Charlotte Loop permanent?

    Steve: There was a test car on Wellington yesterday, and so the track is again navigable. I suspect the plans to run to Charlotte are a combination of (a) not knowing if Wellington would be open when the schedules were written and (b) extending the service further west. It will be interesting to see how much trouble the 503s have getting around Charlotte Loop.


  2. I vividly remember a picture in the Toronto Star the last time the King-Queen-Roncesvalles intersection was redone. Can’t remember the year.

    What’s the extent of the work this time? I seem to remember that the new approach is to pour two layers of concrete to make future replacements faster. Now they only have to replace the first layer and not the foundation?

    Steve: The last time around was “the old way” and so it’s not clear what will be involved this time out. The work will involve not just the intersection, but both entrances to the carhouse and all of the track west to the beginning of the right-of-way east of Parkside.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting that – if I understand right – the 503 will not run on Wellington since the TTC have just re-laid the track west of Yonge and installed all new overhead from Church and up York.

    As with many TTC things, I find it puzzling that they have spent time and money fixing track and overhead on both Richmond and Wellington that now have no regular service while they have still not made all of King Street pantograph compatible (at least King & Church and King & Parliament need to be done, while King and York was completed last year.) I thought that, at one time, new streetcars were to be pantograph only after Car 60 – I guess that too has fallen by the wayside.

    Steve: See my previous reply to James Bow. The plans for this would have been settled a few months ago when the status of Wellington was uncertain.


  4. Do you know if there are any plans to fix the eastbound stop at the Queen/Queensway/Roncesvalles intersection? It’s immensely dangerous not having any proper pedestrian crossing to and from the streetcar island.

    Steve: The plan is to move it farside. This will be interesting given the limited space there.


  5. If track and overhead are usable along Wellington now, what is stopping them from routing 503 along Wellington and back along Richmond? Surely the schedule would still work (more or less) and Operators ought to be able to find their way without training. Just post a Notice. New signup ought not to be needed. That Charlotte Loop seems shaky give the Spadina car experience using it.

    Steve: You cannot come “back along Richmond” as it is one way westbound and there is no track eastbound. Adelaide also is missing a lot of the eastbound track, and there is no east to north curve at York and Adelaide. The only alternate eastbound return other than King is to go up to Queen.


  6. I’m curious about the word “tripper” used twice in this article. Judging from its use in the article, I think “tripper” means (1) a scheduled sub-route that appears to the public to be a short-turn of the longer route, or (2) a regular route that substantially overlaps another longer route.

    So is my definition of “tripper” correct? If 503 Kingston Rd is a tripper, is 514 Cherry also a tripper? Is “tripper” a Toronto-specific term? I have seen the word in books on TTC history.

    Steve: It is a generic term that refers to a car that comes out for a limit working, typically a single trip, possibly over a full route, or as a short turn, or even a special route such as buses that handle some special school trips.


  7. What is the plan for the restoration of the 501 (after construction is completed)? Will the line still be split at the Humber Loop? With the improved travel times resulting from the King Street Pilot, perhaps it would be better to reinstate the 508 at an all-day frequent-service route. The 501 could have a Western terminus at Roncey or Humber Loop. What do you think?

    Steve: I don’t know what the TTC plans to do once the link to Lake Shore is re-established and they have enough cars. In the longer term, the “Waterfront West LRT” will provide the downtown service from Lake Shore, but in the short term, there could be an argument for a return of the 508 Lake Shore. I don’t see this happening until the fleet situation is sorted out, however.


  8. With even more midday service capacity being diverted away from Queen it makes it even more imperative to run the 501 service which is actually scheduled, ie ALRV’s.


  9. @Richard L.: As Steve notes, the “tripper” term has historically been reserved for a rush-hour extra which comes out of the carhouse and makes a trip or two — not necessarily on the regular routing — and then returns, providing specialized limited service during peak hours.

    The 503 streetcar is named the KINGSTON ROAD TRIPPER because the 502 car was originally named KINGSTON ROAD before 1974 when the TTC made an experiment and extended the car west of McCaul along Queen and north on Bathurst to Bathurst station, renaming it DOWNTOWNER. At the time, they decided against renaming its Kingston Road to York via King counterpart the DOWNTOWNER TRIPPER, probably because that would have been silly.

    The extension to Bathurst Station failed to pan out, and the 502 route was restored to its original alignment, ending at McCaul loop, but the DOWNTOWNER name stuck. And, ironically, come February, the 503 car will take on the 502’s old operating hours, and vice versa. So, effectively, the “tripper” has become the master, and the master has become the tripper.


  10. Are there any plans to remove parking spaces on the Carlton and Dundas routes so that buses can fully pull over to the curb? On Lakeshore Blvd the 501 buses can’t always do that. However the road is wider so it is not as much of a problem if a bus is occupying more than a lane.

    Steve: I doubt anyone has thought about this. I will inquire.


  11. “Are there any plans to remove parking spaces on the Carlton and Dundas routes so that buses can fully pull over to the curb?”

    Better yet, let the buses stay on the tracks and load/unload just like a streetcar! Just make sure cars cannot pass the stopped bus by staying back even with parked cars. Otherwise people will rave about the “improved” traffic flow and demand buses be used permanently!

    Steve: Getting in and out of a bus that has not pulled to the curb, especially via the rear doors that do not kneel, is quite difficult. I expect there will be accessibility complaints, even by comparison with CLRVs, not to mention loading delays.


  12. They really need to add more service and put back certain routes to later times that haven’t been put back to 1am. To me very silly after winning the award last year and not to keep investing in service.

    Steve: Toronto loves awards and photo ops. Actually paying what it takes to maintain the reputation is quite another matter.


  13. Based on the route transfers of 102 MARKHAM RD and 169 HUNTINGWOOD to Malvern divisions Steve, it would appear Birchmount may likely to do the bus operation 506 CARLTON which in turn may take over the portion of the 135 GERRARD route in the spring. Having looked at the map for the 113 DANFORTH diversion to Victoria Park Stn. via Victoria, can’t they temporarily restore its old routing N. of Pharmacy and W. of Denton?

    Are there any route transfers and divisions who will run the streetcar routes?

    Steve: I have not seen the details of the new service design and division allocations yet. When I get them, so will you.


  14. I do not understand where suddenly this streetcar shortage came from. Is the TTC scrapping the old cars faster than the Flexity replacements, albeit slow delivery? What about the restoration project of some of the ALRV’s?

    Steve: Recently the TTC confirmed that the “restoration” of the ALRVs, at a cost of close to $1m per car, dealt with “cosmetic” factors – physical body condition &ndash not with the mechanical and electrical subsystems that are affected by very cold weather. Cars that don’t run, or don’t run well enough to be put in service, don’t go out, and they are accumulating faster than new car arrive to replace them.


  15. I’m a bit confused then – sure, rusted out streetcars look pretty bad, and I’m aware of how difficult it is to source replacement parts for the ancient motors. That said, being realistic, if Bombardier keeps up its current pace (~30 cars a year), these cars will have to last until 2022. Will anything be done to keep them going mechanically, or will we just hope they last just long enough to leave the 502 as the only route that needs a bus replacement? I’m having serious doubts the TTC will even keep any of either the CLRV or ALRV as a heritage car.

    Steve: The TTC hopes to get cars at a faster rate in 2018, and is meeting soon with Bombardier (again) in an attempt to nail down more details. I will add to this when I write up the recent Board meeting.


  16. Steve: “Recently the TTC confirmed that the “restoration” of the ALRVs, at a cost of close to $1m per car, dealt with “cosmetic” factors – physical body condition – not with the mechanical and electrical subsystems that are affected by very cold weather.”

    I think most people would rather have a streetcar that works and appears at their stop than one that looks good but can’t leave the yard. It really might have been a better use of $$ to buy more buses.

    Steve: What is sad is that this reinforces the idea that streetcars are expensive and unreliable. There was a conscious decision to switch from CLRV rebuilds to ALRVs because of their capacity, but the CLRV reliability factor is running at 3x the ALRVs.


  17. Grzegorz Radziwonowski said: “I’m having serious doubts the TTC will even keep any of either the CLRV or ALRV as a heritage car.”

    Džinkuje, Grzegorz! Well, I will admit that I am nostalgic for the CLRV and ALRV model. Toronto is the only city in the world with this car, and if only one each are kept, I think that that would be a big shame. These are Toronto icons.

    Perhaps the TTC can find a buyer in a southern city with better weather for a good number of the fleet. Plenty of museums would want one. The irony being that after 40 years of reliable service and global warming, the old streetcars are feeling the cold.

    Steve replied: “Recently the TTC confirmed that the “restoration” of the ALRVs, at a cost of close to $1m per car, dealt with “cosmetic” factors – physical body condition &ndash not with the mechanical and electrical subsystems that are affected by very cold weather. Cars that don’t run, or don’t run well enough to be put in service, don’t go out, and they are accumulating faster than new car arrive to replace them.”

    And the road salt is causing lots of body damage.

    Nevertheless, these were (are) fine vehicles. Over time some of the subsystems have fared poorly – the electronics are obsolete, and I cannot remember specifically, there was something in the running gear which had a design problem that manifests in extreme cold.

    However, the prices for electronics have dropped exponentially in 40 years; we do not need to duplicate the old but just swap out the old and replace with a ready new box, etc. I am absolutely sure that this can be accomplished at a reasonable cost, to upgrade all the streetcars.

    As for design problems with mechanical components, as well as regular replacement of parts that wear, I guess that not much can be done except to secure a parts pipeline.

    I was sad to see the video of #4000 being sent to the scrap yard. I re-iterate, I might be able to take one to keep chickens, I’m on a farm. Just want to check again with the Town, but they did say I can keep any and as much livestock as I want! And perhaps a second one as a gazebo and party deck!


  18. I’m looking forward to the triumphant return of streetcars on the “511 Bathurst” route, starting on Sunday, February 18 – although I’ve become accustomed to the shuttle buses which have been running on this route since early September. They will most likely be the older streetcars – the CLRVs – freed up by the conversion of the “504 King” and “512 St. Clair West” routes, plus streetcars from the “505 Dundas” and “506 Carlton” outes, and maybe also some ALRVs. This route – the “511 Bathurst” has historically run both CLRVs and ALRVs. The latter two routes (“505 Dundas” and “506 Carlton”) will start using shuttle buses, starting on Sunday, February 18.

    I shall be taking the “511 Bathurst” streetcar to get to places along the route’s southern terminus, most notably Exhibition Place, for upcoming events. In February, there is the Artist Project, a contemporary arts expo located at the Better Living Centre. In March, there is the Toronto Vintage Clothing Show & Toronto Antique and Vintage Show, two shows for the price of one at the Queen Elizabeth Building. Also in March, there is the National Home Show & Canada Blooms at the Enercare Centre and adjacent older buildings.

    A little further south, the “Winter at Ontario Place” festival is on until Sunday, March 18.


  19. I notice TTC has taken the 503 proposed changes off its service changes planner. Does that mean this new service won’t start as planned on Feb. 19th?

    Steve: I have inquired and will update this when I know what’s happening. Related changes to the 502 Downtowner and 504 King Pilot page have also disappeared.

    Update: Somehow the wrong expiry date was put on the pages. They have fixed the 503 Kingston Road, but 502 Downtowner and 504 King still show outdated info.


  20. By 4:15 pm, the TTC Service Changes page was once again showing the “503 Kingston Rd – Service change – King Street Transit Pilot” entry that had disappeared earlier in the day.

    Steve: Yes, but 502 and 504 still need their new versions as well.


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