Queen Car Update: August 2018

This article is an update from a previous item about service capacity, as well as a look at the travel times of Queen cars through downtown and the effect of the King Street Pilot.

Service Capacity

Capacity provided on the line continues to be affected by the low availability of the larger ALRVs (articulated streetcars) and their replacement by CLRVs which are only two thirds the size. Peak hour capacities are shown at selected points below.

There is no provision for a capacity increase in the fall schedules, and the best riders can hope for will be that Flexitys will start showing up in weekday service where the ALRVs should be, but have been so absent. On Sunday, September 2, the TTC operated the 501 Queen service almost entirely with Flexitys on a 1-for-1 replacement basis, and it is their intention to do this on weekends from now on.

Bathurst Eastbound AM Peak

Woodbine Westbound AM Peak

Royal York EB AM Peak

Yonge WB PM Peak

Yonge EB PM Peak

The full chart sets are here:

ALRV Availability

The chart below extends the one shown in the previous update to show which articulated (larger) cars were in service on 501 Queen during July and August, 2018. The declining number of ALRVs is evident comparing late August to early July.

Travel Times Between Yonge and Bathurst Streets

The charts in this section show the travel times each way between Yonge and Bathurst on Queen for the three-year period September 2015 to August 2018.

Much of the variation in these charts is explained by diversions and special events:

  • February 2016: Data missing (gap)
  • May to December 2016: All service diverted via Spadina-King-Shaw both ways. The times shown are between Bathurst/King and Yonge/Queen.
  • October 2017: All service diverted via Church-King-Spadina both ways. The times shown are between Bathurst/Queen and Yonge/King.

Some increases due to TIFF are visible in September each year, although in 2016 this is masked in the general slowdown caused by the long-running diversion. Note that the eastbound and westbound effects are not identical.

The important point here is that data from months before the pilot when Queen service was not affected by any spillover from King Street are generally the same as the data for the pilot period starting in November 2016.

Here are samples from the PM peak hour of 5-6 pm.

In these charts, four percentiles are tracked:

  • The 100th percentile (red) is the highest observed travel time for cars entering the zone (westbound crossing Yonge, or eastbound crossing Bathurst) during the hour in question, even if only one car takes this long (typically the first car held by a delay).
  • The 85th percentile (orange) is the time required for most cars to make the trip.
  • The 50th percentile (green) is the median time required. Half of the cars were faster, half were slower than this value.
  • The 25th percentile (purple) is the bottom (best) quartile of travel times.

If the four lines are clustered together, there is only a small spread in the travel times. Where the values fall to zero, typically there was either a major delay, or a diversion that prevented any cars from entering the zone during the hour.

The full sets of charts for five hourly periods through the day are here:


8 thoughts on “Queen Car Update: August 2018

  1. Streetcars are too slow and unreliable. I have been enjoying bus substitution for my local streetcar route. Once streetcars return, I resume driving.


  2. To “Hummels”, it is the single-occupant automobiles that slow down EVERYONE. I avoid the streetcar routes that buses replaced, will return once the streetcars return.


  3. The ALRV fleet was all but grounded in early August, with 18 cars held. 4221 and 4249 were pretty much it for a couple of weeks, but up to seven at peak time have been seen in the last week. It looks like somewhere between 20 and 25 remain, but presumably some of the held cars are still awaiting resolution.

    Meanwhile on the Flexity side, it looks like 4400 has left for the welding repair at La Pocatiere – it was loaded on a car at Hillcrest a few days ago. 4496 and 4497 are in testing. With the flood victims, 4401 and now 4400 out, plus a couple of pantograph calamities,it looks like there are perhaps 85 Flexities available (some of which will also be in scheduled maintenance)


  4. This Sunday afternoon there are 58 Flexitys out with none on Queen. As I look at a tracking map right now there is a huge gap on King St West thanks to TIFF. No westbound 504 cars between Bathurst and Dundas West. A lone 514 car (approaching Howard Park at the moment) was sent to fill the gap.


  5. “On Sunday, September 2, the TTC operated the 501 Queen service almost entirely with Flexitys on a 1-for-1 replacement basis, and it is their intention to do this on weekends from now on.”

    As of about 1.10pm today (Sunday 9th), 4 As, the rest Cs, no Fs. Another TIFF dividend?

    Steve: The TTC appears to have recanted on their announcement of last weekend. Now they’re saying it depends on car availability, but many cars are sitting in Leslie.


  6. I like the new streetcars but the ALRVs and the CLRVs belong in the junkyard. Let us not waste any money preserving even a single ALRV or CLRV. It is better to sell ALL old streetcars for scrap metal and the proceeds can be used to improve service. I do like the new streetcars. Even though that the new streetcars are very expensive and very late and have too many mechanical problems, they are still comfortable and I think that we should get all 204 but no more.

    Steve: Typically for vehicles like this, there is very little payment to the TTC for scrap, and they might even have to pay for the cars’ removal. If there are proceeds, they will not pay for much service. Preservation is a big challenge because unlike older streetcars, the control systems for the C/ALRVs is based on technology that cannot easily be reproduced. When the TTC looked at renewing these vehicles, the cost of a new control package was in the range of $1 million per car.


  7. I really have to question why the TTC even bothered with the ALRV rebuild plan in the first place. It seems like a lot of money was spent for a very short life extension.

    Steve: Yes, it was a very strange decision given that those cars were known to be worse off than the CLRVs, and reliability problems lay in subsystems that were not going to be replaced. I suspect that they thought that with rebuilt bodies the cars would hold on for a while, but a few bad winters proved that wrong. Now our real hope lies with Bombardier Kingston ramping up deliveries starting in October.


  8. The sendoff that the unloved CLRV’s and their articulated cousins are receiving stands in complete contrast to the removal of the last TRC’s, almost 70 years ago. At that time, I recall a great deal of nostalgia and a sense that something of value had been lost forever. Those strong feelings led to the creation of the Halton County RR.

    We live in a time that claims to respect historic items. The early fifties may have been the worst period for that sort of thing. I like the Flexities, but people liked the surviving Witts and the ruling PCC’s in 1951, as well. That didn’t prevent them from mourning the loss of a vehicle that had served them, and provided them with memories, for more than four decades.


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