Streetcar Service Updated Effective February 18, 2018 (Updated)

Updated February 8, 2018: The TTC has announced details of changes to bus and streetcar services on the west end of the 501 Queen route. This information has been added below in the section on that route.

The February 2018 schedules will bring major changes to the streetcar system. I will include these in a coming article with all of the details for the new schedules, but with the scope of the streetcar changes and the interest in this topic, here is a wrap-up of what is planned for these routes.

King Street Corridor

The current schedule calls for trippers to operate, primarily buses and in the AM peak, over the entire 504 King route. These will be replaced with four ALRVs (articulated streetcars) operating from Sunnyside Loop to Broadview. As actually operated, the AM trippers are already using CLRVs (regular sized streetcars) swapped from the 505 Dundas route. Four more ALRVs will be used as standby “run as directed” cars to supplement service on King as needed.

January Schedule January Actual February Schedule
AM Peak
CLRV 33 33 33
CLRV Tripper 7
ALRV Tripper 4
ALRV Run as Directed 4
Bus Tripper 7
PM Peak
CLRV 33 33 33
CLRV Tripper 2
ALRV Tripper 1 1 4
ALRV Run as Directed 4
Bus Tripper 2

The tripper schedules have been changed so that they better cover the peak periods.

  • Eastbound trips leave Sunnyside Loop at: 7:41 a.m., 7:57 a.m., 8:12 a.m., 8:27 a.m., 9:10 a.m., 9:27 a.m., 9:42 a.m., 9:56 a.m.
  • Westbound trips leave Broadview & Queen at 3:07 p.m., 3:20 p.m., 3:33 p.m., 3:46 p.m., 4:50 p.m., 5:03 p.m., 5:16 p.m., 5:29 p.m.

The 503 Kingston Road Bus which now operates from Bingham Loop to York & Wellington during peak hours only will be replaced by a streetcar with service on weekdays peak and midday. This will replace the 502 Downtowner bus which changes to peak-only operation.

During the peak periods the 12′ headway of buses will be replaced by a 12′ headway of CLRVs on the 503 service, and it will be extended west to loop via Spadina, Adelaide and Charlotte Streets. Midday service will operate every 9′ replacing the existing 10′ service on the 502 Downtowner bus. This removes 6 buses/hour from Queen Street, and adds not quite 7 cars/hour to the section of King east of Spadina.

According to the TTC, track construction is planned on Wellington east of Yonge in May. It is not clear whether, when this is complete, the 503 will revert to its usual York street terminus as this would remove the added service between York and Spadina. Whether the Wellington Street work actually occurs remains to be seen as there were plans to defer this until 2019 to avoid complications with the King Street Pilot. The track recently became operational with the restoration of overhead on the one missing section between Church and Yonge westbound.

Service on 514 Cherry during the midday and early evening will be improved from every 15′ to every 10′ to provide added capacity on the King corridor. On Sundays from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm, service will improve from every 15′ to every 11′. (The 514 Cherry route is notorious for irregular headways at its terminals and so the scheduled headways may not match actual experience. This will be the subject of a separate article.)

In combination, these changes will increase the level of service on King Street with the effect concentrated downtown. In particular, there is little AM peak relief for riders inbound from Parkdale, Liberty Village and Bathurst/Niagara beyond a change in the timing of the trippers, whatever benefits the “run as directed” cars might provide and the gradual replacement of runs now operated with CLRVs by the new Flexitys as they become available.

501 Queen & 502/503 Kingston Road

As noted above, the 502 Downtowner midday bus service from Kingston Road to Queen & University will be replaced by the 503 Kingston Road streetcar operating to Spadina & King. Peak service on the 502 bus is not changed, and peak 503 streetcar service will operate at the same frequency, every 12′, as the former bus service. Midday service on the 503 streetcar will be slightly better at 9′ than the 10′ headway now on the 502 bus.

The 501 Queen schedules were written on the basis that Humber Loop would re-open, but work there will not be completed until later in the spring. The planned service would have seen 501 Queen cars operating from Neville to Humber with the 501L Queen bus running from Long Branch to Windermere. Pending the completion of Humber Loop, the streetcars will turn back at Sunnyside Loop, and the 501L buses will operate east to Roncesvalles. 501L buses will no longer run east and south to Dufferin Loop.

The looping and transfer arrangements for the 501L bus at Roncesvalles, and later at Windermere, have not yet been announced.

When 501 Queen streetcar service to Humber Loop resumes, the last service stop will be at South Kingsway because there will be no connecting services at Humber.

The 501M bus service via Marine Parade will be dropped because of low use. The 66 Prince Edward bus is available as an alternative, and it will continue on its diversion routing.

The 301 Queen night service is unchanged with two branches continuing to operate from Neville to Sunnyside (streetcars) and from Dufferin Loop to Long Branch (buses). This will be modified with the April schedules (details not yet announced).

Service on 501 Queen streetcar will be scheduled to operate with a mix of CLRVs and ALRVs on a more frequent headway than the current schedules that presume all ALRVs and their capacity. This has been a long-standing problem for Queen street where smaller cars attempt to handle demand on a service designed for larger vehicles. The improvement is about a 10% increase in cars/hour in the peak, and a 20% improvement off-peak.

Updated February 8, 2018

The planned changes to routes on the west end of Queen is different from that originally described in the service change memo. The following information is taken from the TTC Service Advisory page.

Effective February 18:

  • Streetcars will operate between Roncesvalles and Neville as originally planned.
  • 501L buses will operate between Long Branch and Dufferin/Queen looping via Gladstone, Peel and Dufferin instead of running south to Dufferin Loop as they do now.
  • 301L night buses will continue to run between Long Branch and Dufferin Loop.
  • The 501M Marine Parade shuttle will be discontinued as originally planned.

Effective April 1:

  • Streetcars will operate between Humber and Neville. However, Humber Loop will not be ready to reopen as a transfer point with bus routes, and so the connection to the 501L service will be at Windermere (if the information in the service memo still holds).

Effective early June:

  • Streetcars will return to the full route from Long Branch to Neville.

Work now underway at Humber Loop includes:

  • new streetcar tracks including new spur track
  • accessible platforms
  • new/wider pedestrian tunnel walkway
  • new sub-station building and underground conduits for electric cables
  • realignment of all existing overhead wiring in the loop and in the tunnel leading to Lake Shore Boulevard West

According to the TTC notice:

Track installation and some overhead adjustments for the Queen turn-back will completed by April 1, 2018, weather permitting. Remaining work, including passenger platform renewal, track renewal and overhead adjustments for the Lake Shore turn-back, as well as a wider pedestrian tunnel walkway will be completed by early June 2018.

506 Carlton & 505 Dundas

Service on both the 506 Carlton and 505 Dundas routes will be converted to bus operation. In addition to the streetcar shortage, several construction projects will affect these routes in coming months:

  • Track construction on Broadview from south of Dundas to Hogarth (north end of Riverdale Park) beginning in May
  • Track construction at Parliament/Gerrard in May
  • Track construction at Broadview/Dundas and Broadview/Gerrard in the summer
  • Track constuction at Dundas/Lansdowne in September
  • Water main construction on Dundas from Bathurst to Huron in September
  • Main Street Station construction through the summer

506 Carlton buses will run to Keele Station as their western terminus rather than to High Park Loop.

The bus replacements for streetcar service vary in the ratio of buses to streetcars depending on the time of day.

Dundas Streetcar Dundas Bus Carlton Streetcar Carlton Bus
AM Peak 18 27 32 45
M-F Midday 18 27 28 36
PM Peak 19 30 29 42
M-F Early Evening 14 20 18 25
M-F Late Evening 10 12 14 18
Sat Early Morning 10 10 14 15
Sat Morning 16 20 18 22
Sat Afternoon 25 28 25 30
Sat Early Evening 11 14 16 20
Sat Late Evening 10 10 13 16
Sun Early Morning 9 9 11 12
Sun Morning 14 17 12 17
Sun Afternoon 19 20 18 22
Sun Early Evening 10 11 12 13
Sun Late Evening 9 10 11 12
Night Service 3 3

511 Bathurst

The 511 Bathurst route will revert from bus to streetcar operation using CLRVs. All service will operate between Bathurst Station and Exhibition Loop.

Service on weekdays will generally be less frequent with the streetcars than the buses reflecting their larger capacity, although peak service south of King and west to Exhibition will improve with the elimination of the short turn 511C bus service.

Weekend streetcar schedules are the same as those used in November 2015. Saturday daytime service will be at similar headways with the streetcars as with buses reflecting demand at those hours. Sunday afternoon and early evening service will be slightly less frequent with the streetcars.

509 Harbourfront, 510 Spadina and 512 St. Clair

There are no changes to the schedules for these routes.

Roncesvalles Carhouse

This carhouse will close until late 2018 for construction in the yard. Service will be operated from the east end carhouses as below:

  • Leslie: 509 Harbourfront, 510/310 Spadina, 514 Cherry
  • Russell: 501/301 Queen, 503 Kingston Rd., 504 King, 511 Bathurst, 512 St. Clair

16 thoughts on “Streetcar Service Updated Effective February 18, 2018 (Updated)

  1. Hmm… With that said, how would the 512 ST. CLAIR deadhead from Russell to Keele loop? It may take miles to start and end service on that route.

    But again the 506 CARLTON BUS may be a good alternative for the LINE 2 SHUTTLE buses whenever there’s work going on there.

    Steve: The 512 already runs from the east end to Keele Loop, but the cars do so in service. I have ridden them running effectively as Queen extras.

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  2. I thought they’d been running more 504 peak service than that in the last couple of weeks, with extra runs.

    Steve: There may be occasional extras, but nothing substantial. There are no spare cars.

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  3. With all the construction projects on Broadview, and at Parliament/Gerrard, is there any plan for where the King car will turn in the east end? This is when a loop at Broadview and Queen would be useful. I don’t really see a feasible short-turn location for 30-40 King cars per hour in the east.

    Steve: It’s a question of timing. While the line is under construction from Gerrard north, King cars could loop via Parliament, Dundas and Broadview with buses handling the link north to Danforth. Once the north end is done, and Parliament/Gerrard is also finished, the diversion could shift to Parliament, Gerrard and Broadview. There will obviously be periods with no through service while intersections are rebuilt, and even the buses will be challenged.

    Another option is to send some of the King service to Distillery Loop.

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  4. Dead-heading. I thought that all streetcars (obviously except training cars) offered service when going into and out of service? (I have quite often taken a ‘Spadina car” along King Street as it went to/from Leslie. (Interestingly, though the seem to be signed 504 “Queen and Leslie” they also say “Short Turn”.)

    Steve: Cars are not supposed to dead head, although one does see the occasional “Not In Service” car. As for the text of the signs, that’s something of a moving target. My understanding is that they are being tweaked. A 504 to Leslie is a short turn in the sense that it does not go to Broadview Station.

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  5. I would think 512 would joint the crew at Leslie given that up to 2/3 of vehicles (and as little as 1/5 of vehicles) allocated are LFLRVs.

    Steve: I just report what’s in the TTC memo. With the shift of the Ronces fleet to the east end, there will be a lot of active CLRVs and ALRVs at both carhouses.

    I am paranoid that we will lose 505 Dundas to bus service altogether. I have visions of enormous traffic jams at Dundas West and Broadview stations that could be “alleviated” by having two loops for one route. Please say “you’re paranoid/they’re not that clever.”

    I think once the fleet is converted over, it will need to be operated like the subway (crew step-back) so that the vehicle is always moving, and the operators take their breaks.

    Steve: I don’t think that there is any danger of a permanent loss because there is no pile of surplus buses looking for a home. The real issue here is Bombrdier’s delivery rate. I agree about step-back crews. They are long overdue now that, in theory, there are hardly any short turns to screw them up.

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  6. “The looping and transfer arrangements for the 501L bus at Roncesvalles”

    I believe the usual loop for buses was King, Dufferin Queen because buses are forbidden on Jameson and all the other streets before Dufferin.

    Steve: They don’t have anywhere near enough running time to run all the way to Dufferin. The TTC memo explicitly says they will turn at Roncesvalles, but not how.

    “When 501 Queen streetcar service to Humber Loop resumes, the last service stop will be at South Kingsway because there will be no connecting services at Humber.”

    At Humber Loop there is a grocery store and mall a short walk away (but a very long walk from South Kingsway). People also walk through the tunnel under the Gardener from the condos to get to Humber Loop.

    Steve: I am not sure that there is a lot of Humber-to-mall traffic, and in any event this will be served by the Prince Edward bus. The underpass to Lake Shore has been under construction for some time and is not open to pedestrian traffic.

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  7. Maybe I’ve been looking at mid-day more than peak. I should write down what I see more often … but often seem more at mid-day. But looking now, and what I saw the other morning, might be a bit less at peak than your actual!

    So the big gain is using Flexitys rather than CLRVs.

    There’s some spares. I believe the current board calls for 165 cars. The other morning they had 166 out, but only 19 ALRVs and 89 CLRVs. Right now, for example, there are 99 CLRVs out (though less Flexitys and ALRVs than out the other morning).

    As long as it’s not very cold, surely they can push out 175 cars for AM peak.

    How many cars are shown for the peaks for the February board?

    If I try and guestimate from your numbers, for AM peak they added 8 on 504, 8(?) on 503, 9(?) on 501, and 11 on 511 (add 36) and remove 50 on 505/506.

    Hang on, that’s only 151 cars … is my math bad, or did I miss something?

    Steve: The Streetcars Department is reducing the number of cars it needs to make service.

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  8. The article says the carhouse assignments are:
    – Leslie: 509 Harbourfront, 510/310 Spadina, 514 Cherry
    – Russell: 501/301 Queen, 503 Kingston Rd., 504 King, 511 Bathurst, 512 St. Clair

    But many of the streetcars on 504/512 are Flexity cars. So would these not come from Leslie with only older streetcars for 504/512 coming from Russell?

    Steve: Either there will be a lot of operators walking back and forth between divisions, or all types of equipment will be at the yards where they are needed.

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  9. There is long standing issue with 501/301 line since construction on Humber loop started more than a year ago. Issue is with the part of the line west from Roncesvalles. My stop is Queensway/Windermere going east.

    Issue number one is the bus schedule.

    • We used to have streetcars running every 12 minutes from Humber loop starting 5a.m. Year ago, streetcars were replaced with busses but it did not match the streetcar schedule. At the Windermere stop now we have buss at 5:18 a.m. an then 5:50 a.m. And after that every 5 minutes?
    • Second issue is that bus drivers do not follow the schedule. They come in early and they do not wait for the scheduled time at the stop. This is beyond allowed TTC +3/-3 minutes. Now we have bus coming whenever between at 5:07a.m 5:25a.m. Most of the time bus is early and what I it is very frustrating and I do not understand why they do not wait for the scheduled time? Next bus is at 5:50 a.m.

    I did send numerous complaints to TTC in past year only to receive same response over and over again. TTC is “committed to improving service”…”Senior Management was notified in regards to my concerns”.

    I even contacted Councilor Sarah Doucette’s office, and response from TTC was that they are closely monitoring this route (I consider this a joke) and there is no demand for more frequent service? Really? Why then, there was more frequent service before construction?

    So, what I do now I come to the stop 5:05 and wait. Should I remind you that is a winter and that waiting 15-20 minutes at the stop is no fun? On numerous occasion I had to take taxi ($8) to the Roncesvalles (2 km east from Windermere) where more frequent service starts at 5:00 a.m.

    With this new construction at the Roncesvalles I expect more problems. I do not think that TTC is taking our complaint seriously and they take advantage of commuters because most of us do not have choice. In order to get to work we HAVE to take TTC so for us it is not “better way” in is “no choice way”.

    One more thing I notice in your response for one of the questions : ”They don’t have anywhere near enough running time to run all the way to Dufferin. The TTC memo explicitly says they will turn at Roncesvalles, but not how.”

    So there is a way to turn at Roncesvalles? Why then TTC did not utilize this before? What is the cost of fuel used to run this empty buses from Roncesvalles to Dufferin for more than a year?
    Sorry, for long post, it is a year of grievances in it.

    Regards, Jasna M

    Steve: I suspect that they will loop through the corner of the yard around the division office and the hotel. With the yard active, this probably would not have worked because of buses laying over or being blocked by streetcars.

    As for the unreliability of the bus service, it is something I have wanted to write about and it just keeps getting set aside. The TTC has a very irresponsible attitude especially for replacement services that run very erratic headways. All of claims to care about service quality and happy customers evaporate. I was at Queensway and Windermere just a few days ago, and what showed up was a pair of buses from Long Branch inbound to Dufferin. On a Sunday afternoon. There is no excuse for this at all beyond operators who don’t do their job and only want to drive back and forth with the fewest passengers and the longest layovers.

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  10. Last week the TTC published the route diversion and service changes for Feb 18th on their site and the updated notice for the 501 still mentions 501L buses will be going along Queen to Dufferin. There’s no mention of service south on Dufferin though.

    Steve: Interesting. That is not what the service change memo says, although I am not surprised. What this will do to the scheduled service is another matter. I will inquire.

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  11. The 501 replacement busses will no longer provide service to Dufferin Loop, but will turn back using Gladstone and Peel according to this service advisory.

    Steve: Thanks for this link. I will update the main article with the info.

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  12. Most of the 503 cars going west are signed ‘503 YORK via King’. A few seem to say 503 SPADINA which is surely much clearer for customers. Perhaps operators need to get new instructions or supervisors need to supervise?

    Steve: Yet another example of the fine “TTC Way” at work. It’s all in the details, folks.

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  13. I work at King and York and have noticed a lot of streetcar activity mid-day heading up north on York. Hilariously, most of these appear to be the 503 cars being short-turned back east.

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  14. Steve, feel free to move this comment if there’s a more appropriate location.

    Since the change to the 501L looping in the east end as of this current board period, service has become a lot worse. The 501L is like the little girl with the curl; when it’s good, it’s a very quick ride, but when it’s bad, it’s a miserable long wait.

    Last night, after the (very last) New Creations concert, I arrived at King and Roncesvalles and waited for a 501L. Nine — nine! — 501 streetcars pulled up and offloaded their passengers during my 25 minute wait for a shuttle bus that’s supposed to run every 9 minutes Saturday late evenings.

    This morning, at 9:20 AM, I saw five 501L buses laying over on Lake Shore just east of Long Branch loop. A sixth 501L was pulling up at the back to join the queue. A seventh 501L was just exiting the loop to head eastbound. Sunday mornings, there are eight buses assigned to the 501L….and seven of them were hanging around Long Branch loop. You can figure that there are huge gaps in service all along the line. (And real-time tracking isn’t working very well for 501L, I understand there are technical and/or sign-in factors for this.)

    Seeing five or more 501L buses having a nap at Long Branch is not unusual, ever since the change in the service to loop via Peel/Gladstone instead of going down to Dufferin Gate.

    It’s so obviously bad, that the local Councillor has written a letter of concern to the TTC’s CEO.

    There’s a simple solution to this problem. From 5 AM to 1 AM, post an Inspector at Roncesvalles and another at Long Branch loop. There were inspectors posted last year, and that really smoothed out service. However, as soon as they went home at 6 PM, service went to crap. Since there are people who need to take the 501L in the morning to get to work, or in the evening to get home, I am asking the TTC to put the inspectors out to cover early morning and late evenings as well. Last night was not the first time in the past week that there was an inexplicably large service gap in 501L service; same thing happened the previous Saturday (also after a New Creations concert). In that case, the operator mumbled something about “a convoy blocking buses”.

    The fact that nine 501L streetcars made it to Roncesvalles before one 501L bus shows that there was no traffic congestion. It was operators running as they pleased, and hiding wherever on the route. This is what passes for “customer service” on the 501L.

    Steve: I am fed up with Rick Leary’s back-patting about making service run better when the clear problem is that TTC culture, aka “The TTC Way”, screws up the service royally thanks to the lack of supervision.

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  15. Having ridden the shuttle bus replacement for the Carlton car a few times, in different directions and different times of the day, I am going to venture a guess that there won’t be all that many riders saying “the buses are better than the streetcars!”.

    Gaps and overcrowding seem to be routine. If you wait for the second or third bus in a parade (because the first one is stuffed) you have a good chance of being short-turned (hello, Coxwell and Gerrard). It can be a pleasant experience if the bus isn’t overcrowded and the operator is determined to make time, but I suspect the majority of riders will be stuck on the buses that are full up and lurching from stop to stop.

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