TTC Service Changes Effective February 17, 2019

The TTC service changes for mid-February 2019 include few major revisions to service, but much tweaking of vehicle allocations and headways. Where there are small improvements, these are usually offset by small cuts in a process the TTC describes as “rebalancing” so that vehicle hours are allocated where and when they are needed on routes.

The major revision in streetcar service that was expected in February for the King-Queen-Roncesvalles project will not be implemented until the end of March.

Items of note in the February changes include:

  • One PM peak gap train will be added on Line 1 Yonge-University-Spadina for a total of two trains.
  • 7 Bathurst will switch from articulated to standard bus operation on weekdays to free up vehicles for a capital repair program on the artic bus fleet. The replacement standard-sized bus service will provide less capacity than the service now operating. At the same time, running times will be increased to compensate for expected delays and diversions at Forest Hill Station (Bathurst & Eglinton) construction which will also affect 33 Forest Hill.
  • 32 Eglinton West will have longer scheduled running times and wider weekday headways to compensate for construction delays along Eglinton.
  • 512 St. Clair will have wider headways and a substantial increase in recovery time. This is an odd situation considering that St. Clair operates entirely on protected lanes. The new recovery times are longer than those allowed on any of the mixed-traffic streetcar routes most of which are longer than the 512. I will review the operation of the St. Clair route on a before-and-after basis later this year.

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34 thoughts on “TTC Service Changes Effective February 17, 2019

  1. The change in 512 car service is not to the running time, but recovery time. The old running time (72 min total AM peak) vs. the new running time (80 min.) is 2 full headways. The total number of cars is still the same, but this only means that with a longer recovery time more cars will be sitting…recovering.

    Terminal space on the 512 is limited, I think you can squeeze 3 Flexities into St. Clair (but no passing track), 2 is pushing the limits at Gunn’s Loop, leaving St. Clair West (passing track on the loop) as the spot for recovery. And I usually see the current cars playing “bump ’em” (one arrives – one leaves) at St. Clair station now. St. Clair West is a different story, there they come and go, perhaps the extra time will allow them to play “bump ’em” here too? Must be the latest in line management techniques!

    Or could this be a first step to see if a lower level of service on 512 would fly? If this lower service level works, would they pull a car or two from the line? CLRV service level was 24 cars (24 x 46 seats/102 service = 1104/2448) and TTC is now running 19 Flexities (19 x 70 seats/132 service = 1330/2508). This is about 3 Flexites worth of seated capacity, or 1 of service capacity.

    Steve: The TTC’s approach to recovery time on this line is very strange, vastly greater than elsewhere. Already there are problems with uneven departures because ops know they have lots of padding in the schedule.

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  2. I notice that the 42 Cummer bus will be split at Don Mills Station at the bottom of the chart. I assume that’s a mistake?

    Steve: Yes, that comment was left over from a different section that was deleted but not cleaned up. I have removed it. Thanks.

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  3. Is the 88 Circle trip to end at the station instead of Thorncliffe seven days a week?

    Steve: Yes.

    It’s gonna be crazy on Bathurst without artics.

    Steve: I am baffled by the cut in service capacity on top of the notorious unreliability of that route.

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  4. Also I am surprised 11 Bayview Bus doesn’t have more time in the late evenings during the week they give it more time on the weekend late evenings

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  5. Quick question! I know that the 7 Bathurst Bus is supposed to be operated by 40ft buses on Saturdays and Sundays. But why have most of the buses on this route been mostly artics for the past couple of Saturdays and Sundays? It seemed that artics were used on this route 7 days a week, despite the fact that for the 2 days of the week, the route was designated as a forty footer route? Did they use the bigger buses for more capacity? The service levels have not increased. Just curious as to why the TTC does this sometimes. Thanks! I guess now with the new change, the artics are gone from Bathurst.

    Steve: The inability of the TTC to actually operate the scheduled vehicle type is a long-standing issue, although more often it’s a short vehicle that substitutes for a long one. I don’t know the details of the artic rebuild program yet except that it is expected to last to the end of 2020.

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  6. I have a feeling the switch to standard buses on the 7 Bathurst also have something to do with the planned intersection closure at Eglinton/Bathurst. Standard buses are easier to turn which would help speed up in congestion. Now that the closure isn’t going to happen, we’ll see they enjoy long layovers while hundreds of riders pile up at Bathurst Station.

    Also in your construction project chart at the end, you still have the line “3 SRT & 131 Nugget, SRT fleet overhaul, 131E Nugget service supplements the SRT”. The supplement service 131F ended a long time ago due to low ridership. The 903 has replaced the existing 131E which is the same frequency as before the overhaul.

    Steve: Ah yes. I will update that.

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  7. The new streetcars must not stop moving. Operators must be prepared, at the terminals (loop or station) *AT THE ARRIVAL POINT* to switch off. There is not enough space anywhere (at any of the stations/loops) in the system for LFLRVs to stop. Operators need a new schedule, and the step-ins need to be PRESENT at the moment of arrival, to take the vehicle toward departure.

    Quasi-related: it boils my blood with routine *LENGTHY* stops at Coxwell on Line 2 WAITING for replacement operators to walk to the front/rear. The culture in this organization is toxic.

    Could we see a customer-oriented, service-oriented approach, efficiency-based approach?
    No. Apparently, the only thing wrong with the TTC is that the subway isn’t a provincial responsibility. (end of insane rant)

    Steve: There is a similar problem with crew-change related delays on Line 1 at Sheppard West (formerly at Wilson).

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  8. So, any reason why the 186 Wilson Rocket now stands as the last lonely non-renumbered express service on the TTC? Did somebody just forget?

    Steve: The map of express buses includes 996 Wilson, and it includes a note saying that all of the changes will be implemented through early 2019. There’s still a chance for that last one to be picked up.

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  9. The 7 : As someone said Steve, I would say this was done likely because of that now cancelled closure at Bathurst and Eglinton. I took the Bathurst bus last Saturday, and I can confirm that route has the artics on it even on a weekend. As well, do we know some details on that King-Queen-Roncesvalles project yet? Or will have to wait until March?

    Steve: The details for KQR are not yet available, but there are at least three distinct parts of the project. Reconstruction of the intersection including the south entrance to Roncesvalles Carhouse, reconstruction of the north entrance to the carhouse, and reconstruction of The Queensway to extend the streetcar right-of-way east from Parkside to Roncesvalles. Threaded through all of this will be the rebuilding of the overhead.

    512 St. Clair cars will use the north gate to enter service (via Roncesvalles, Howard Park and Dundas) while the intersection is closed.

    The schedule details should be out around the end of February, and preliminary construction notices might appear on the City’s site sooner.

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  10. Hi Steve,

    For these changes, I wonder if they will still dispatch artics to the 913 after Feb 17. I wonder if they are ever going to “officially” change 134C/913 to an artic route, in my opinion, they should. What is bizarre is they’ve used artics on the entire 134C portion since Jan 2018, for an entire year. Then in summer 2018, the entire 134 (A/B & C) were artics until Jan 8 2019. Since last Tuesday, they put 0 artics out on the entire route for almost a week, after an entire year it’s used them, until this past Wed Jan 16 where they used 3 artics on 134C runs.

    What makes absolutely no sense to me is they used 9 artics on 134A/B/C – 913 on Christmas Eve & New Years Eve (when obviously there are no classes at Centennial) and during the Christmas break. The route was dead and they wasted all these buses coming so frequently with literally, only me on it. Yet when the new semester starts (the first week – Jan 7), they take all the artics off?? That makes no sense! So I had two 134C’s pass my stop at noon last week because the 40ft’ buses were so packed. They can divide up the 134C/913 runs because those are runs #5-9 (as artics) and #1-4 can be the 40ft 134A/B runs – but they don’t do this. I emailed them but got no response, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens… Why put artics on a route then all of a sudden take them all off? What are your thoughts?

    Steve: I have never been able to fathom the vehicle dispatching at TTC which often seems to ignore both the schedules and common sense. A common sight on Queen when there were lots of ALRVs was to find CLRVs running on ALRV headways, and ALRVs running on the Long Branch section while CLRVs attempted to handle loads on the main Humber-Neville section. This sort of thing has been a problem for as long as I can remember, and it’s one of those examples of not managing the details that undermines all of the talk of “improving” service.

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  11. Would 32A still be a ten minute network route even after some periods adjusted to 11 minutes?

    Steve: I don’t think anyone noticed that. For all their talk about the “accomplishment” of running more service, many of the changes involve giving buses more running time on wider headways rather than adding buses to routes. They have not published figures showing the change in crowding levels for years.

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  12. I have been waiting to ask this question for a while. It is still not quite on topic, but closer than some threads.

    One of the streetcar characteristics was “always in service” as the car returned to the barn or left in the morning. I enjoyed a great “railfan” ride from King and Shaw to St. Clair Station early one morning and have enjoyed “one seat rides” from Western Hospital mid morning on my way back to King and Shaw.

    Why do the new streetcars seem to be “Out of Service” for the barn to the route portion of their journey?

    Steve: They are supposed to stay in service, but some operators don’t do it that way. This is very frustrating when you know there will be a car making a trip to or from Leslie, and it sails by out of service. Another one of those little details that slip through the cracks.

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  13. It’s actually interesting they say that Coxwell takes a long time for drivers to switch. Of the two relief points Coxwell is actually observed to be the faster of the two. Sheppard West always takes so long much longer than Coxwell.

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  14. Steve, the major revision of streetcar service and shuttle bus operation (on substantial portions of the “501 Queen” and “504 King” routes) expected for the King-Queen-Roncesvalles project won’t be implemented until March. The “504 King” is now fully converted to Flexity Outlooks, while the “501 Queen” is gradually replacing its older streetcars (CLRVs and ALRVs) with Flexity Outlooks, as more of them continue to arrive from Bombardier. What’s the reason for this delay in the start date of the project? The “511 Bathurst” route continues with shuttle bus operation, (in February) the “505 Dundas” route enters its second year of shuttle bus operation, and the “503 Kingston Road Tripper” route (which uses CLRV streetcars) switches to shuttle bus operation.

    Which (streetcar) route is next to become fully converted to Flexity Outlooks?

    Steve: Originally, the only work that was to be done in Feb-Mar was on the overhead, and someone at TTC has apparently woken up to the fact that this would bring a major service disruption with not much visible going on during a period when people would be forced to transfer in the cold.

    505 Dundas continues to be disrupted by water main work that is progressing east through the core. 503 Kingston Road is back to buses because Wellington is under construction at least through the summer of 2019. 501 Queen is supposed to be the next route to go low floor, and that will be aided over the summer by the shortened route. 511 Bathurst isn’t a priority until summer events drive up demand.

    The TTC’s streetcar plans (which I will cover in a separate post) do not foresee complete restoration of streetcars to all routes for some time as they appear to want to concentrate on doing a close to 1-for-1 replacement with new cars to increase route capacities. I hope to have more info about this when the detailed capital budget books (which include fleet plans) are available.

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  15. Today I saw a streetcar on the “511 Bathurst” route, heading southbound. However, this route continues to operate with shuttle buses.

    I was watching the news on CP24, and during a deep freeze the TTC removes streetcars from routes operating with older streetcars (CLRV and ALRV) and replaces them with shuttle buses. In recent years – the winter of 2014 which was the winter of the Polar Vortex – there was at least a couple of deep freezes, which the temperature was -10 to -15 during the daytime, and colder at night-time with temperatures closer to -20 to -25. The TTC took streetcars off three routes – the “511 Bathurst”, “502 Downtowner”, and “503 Kingston Road Tripper” – and put shuttle buses on those routes for the duration of the deep freezes.

    During the current deep freeze (“is this the Polar Vortex” revisited?), the new low-floor Flexity Outlooks continue to run, whereas those routes which operate with older streetcars (CLRV and ALRV) such as “506 Carlton” would take its streetcars off and run shuttle buses.

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  16. The “511 Bathurst” route is a lower-priority route for the new Flexity Outlook streetcars. However, with the upcoming construction at King-Queen-Roncesvalles (which requires large portions of “501 Queen” and “504 King” to switch to shuttle bus operation) and the “503 Kingston Road Tripper” route (which uses CLRVs) to also switch to shuttle bus operation, the “511 Bathurst” could switch back to streetcars sooner than the scheduled date with older (CLRV and ALRV) streetcars until there are a more substantial number of Flexity Outlooks available.

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  17. Yesterday, the “506 Carlton” route was using shuttle buses instead of streetcars. What is the explanation? Was it the weather conditions? This upcoming Wednesday and Thursday (January 30 and 31), the daytime temperature will be in the minus teens. Which TTC streetcar routes will be running shuttle buses – the “506 Carlton” (which uses CLRVs)?

    Steve: The TTC has been regularly taking the CLRVs off the road because they have problems in very cold weather. This affects both 506 Carlton and 501 Queen.

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  18. Today, the 925 Don Mills Express buses were not running, due to the weather conditions. Instead, to fill in the gaps, service was increased on the 25 Don Mills buses. What was the reason for this? Express buses don’t stop at all the bus stops, and people are left waiting and they are left to endure blowing snow and bitterly cold temperatures.

    What other 900-series routes had their express buses removed, and increased in local service (example: “937 Islington Express” and “37 Islington”)?

    Steve: All of them. The TTC announced this at the start of the morning rush hour in their online notices, and I heard it in traffic reports on CBC. The whole idea was to have all buses serve all stops in the bitterly bad weather.

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  19. Stupid TTC policy alert! In the spirit of miscellaneous discussion regarding this recent bad weather, most Flexity operators are still opening all doors at all stops even during Monday’s near whiteout conditions. Opening up the entire passenger compartment and letting the high winds blow snow into every orifice only serves to piss people off.

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  20. Steve, one writer wrote about opening doors on the new streetcars and I have a follow-up question.

    Was there ever a tutorial that dealt with opening the doors on standby so the passengers can open the doors themselves from the outside?

    I have a feeling that the operators haven’t been doing it and instead opening all the doors is because most of the time the passengers aren’t aware of what happens when the doors open.

    Correct me if I’m wrong? Just an observation riding the 512 and 504 a lot.

    Steve: I have seen this done at terminals during layovers such as at Broadview Station and Distillery Loop, but not along the route. It’s a shame the ops don’t do this routinely because it would keep the cars a lot warmer during periods when there isn’t activity at all doors. That said, I have noticed that some start the “close door” process fairly early so that doors where there is no activity shut again. Savvy passengers know they can be reopened by pressing the button.

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  21. Today, on Finch Avenue, there were no “939 Finch Express” buses running between York University and U-of-T’s Scarborough campus. To fill in the gap, there was an increase in service for the “36 Finch West” and “39 Finch East” bus routes.

    What is the explanation for this (withdrawing express buses on Finch)?

    Steve: I answered this question of yours already in this thread. Please read my answer to your previous comment.

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  22. Regarding the door buttons on the Flexity cars – at Distillery Loop, most operators have been closing the doors and allowing push-button opening while they wait for departure. However there have been 1 or 2 operators who kept the doors open, which made for a rather unpleasant wait in the cold weather.

    The “last-second” boardings are somewhat of a concern. I’ve observed on several occasions a Flexity car with 4 out of 5 doors closed and the 5th door starting to close, and someone will come up and press a button on another door. And then perhaps another person at another door, and perhaps once more after that. I understand that everyone wants to get onboard, especially in frigid weather, but it does delay departures. At some point the streetcar does have to leave the stop.

    I wonder if it might be possible for the onboard software to deactivate the door buttons and initiate a final closing procedure, i.e. “no more boardings”?

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  23. Andy Byford and Brad Ross starred in a TTC produced video over 4 years ago demonstrating the use of the door buttons. The relevant segment starts at around 1:40 into the video.

    If the ops actually did what was shown in the video there wouldn’t be blowing snow inside the cabin at every stop.

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  24. When streetcars return to the “511 Bathurst” route – which has been using shuttle buses for the past five months – which models will serve that route? The upcoming construction project at the junction of King-Queen-Roncesvalles would be releasing older streetcars to be redeployed to routes currently running shuttle buses. More of the new low-floor Flexity Outlook stteetcars continue to arrive from the Bombardier factory and go into circulation; recently I saw Flexity Outlook 4521 in service.

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  25. To the writer ‘Art Vandalay’ who wrote about this. Yes, there is a way the operators stop any boardings. When you hear the 3 chimes like the subway train (not just the one) that is a sign that no matter what you do as a passenger the doors will NOT open again. The only way they will open again is if the driver physically re-activates all the doors and they usually don’t do that when they are going to pull away from a stop.

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  26. A week ago today – Monday, January 28, 2019 – my usual 20-minute ride on the “36 Finch West” bus from Finch Avenue West and Virgilwood Drive (just west of Bathurst Street) to the Finch West subway station was a two-hour affair. First, I waited for a bus, and that was at least 30 minutes, and I saw more school buses than TTC buses. The blizzard-like snow storm began in mid-afternoon ahead of the afternoom rush-hour and peaked during rush hour, and it slowed down traffic on Finch Avenue and other arterials. The term ‘rush hour’ was a misnomer, as traffic crawling along, bumper to bumper. There was a woman sitting next to me on the bus, and she thought about exiting the bus at Finch West and Dufferin; she however stayed on the bus to Finch West subway station; she made the right decision and is grateful for it. After getting off the bus – oh whatta relief it was – I took the subway home. I treated the experience as an adventure.

    Today – one week later – I took the “36 Finch West” bus from Finch Avenue and Virgilwood Drive to Finch West subway station and the journey took somewhere in the neighbourhood of 20 minutes, more or less. Then I would take another “36 Finch West” bus further west and got off at Finch West and Duncanwoods, a few blocks east of Islington. At the Finchdale Plaza, located on the north side of Finch, there were still mountains of show in the parking lot left from last week’s snow storm.

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  27. Yesterday – February 6, 2017 – I wasn’t too surprised to see shuttle buses instead of streetcars on the “512 St. Clair West” streetcar route. What is the reason for this? When there is a special weather statement calling for freezing rain, the TTC takes the streetcars off the route and replaces them with shuttle buses. Freezing rain accumulates on the overhead wires and the tracks, and sufficient accumulation may cause power outages. Which other streetcar routes (actually running streetcars as opposed to using buses) switched to shuttle buses in advance of yesterday’s freezing rain warning?

    During the ice storm of December 2013, there was sufficient freezing rain accumulation, and it caused widespread power outages. There was shuttle bus operation on stretches of the subway lines most notably Bloor-Danforth (from Jane to Kipling and the open-cut stretches near High Park) and Yonge-University Spadina (open-cut stretches between St. Clair and Eglinton and from Wilson to Eglinton West). There was also shuttle buses on the TTC’s streetcar routes; power outages and ice accumulation was the reason for shuttle bus operation. Once again, the bus is the humble workhorse of our transit system.

    Steve: I already answered this question in a previous comment. The TTC moved all of the Flexitys to a handful of routes downtown to concentrate the service on King, Queen, Spadina and Harbourfront. They have already announced that St. CLair will operate with buses on February 7 too.

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  28. At around noon today the first Flexity cars started making their way up to St. Clair. The 18 or so St. Clair cars were running as extras (majority) on Queen and a handful on King during the morning. I do wonder how the TTC chose the arrangement because all of the St. Clair cars operated as extras on King yesterday. Perhaps they found 19 additional Flexity’s caused too much congestion?

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  29. The “503 Kingston Road Tripper” route, which uses older streetcars (CLRVs) has switched to bus operation. The next major construction project – the King-Queen- Roncesvalles intersection and the Roncesvalles Car House – originally scheduled for February will be delayed until March. It will require substantial stretches of the “501 Queen” (which began using Flexity Outlooks but still uses mostly CLRVs) and “504 King” (which is fully converted to Flexity Outlooks) routes to switch to bus operation. This would free up older streetcars (CLRVs). The “511 Bathurst” route, which is using buses, could switch back to streetcar operation sooner, with older streetcars (CLRVs), as soon as March.

    Steve: The schedule change is not until March 31 when the first phase of work at KQR will begin. The TTC has not yet issued details of the route changes or vehicle allocations.

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  30. Today, a snow storm arrived in Toronto, with blizzard-like conditions at times. I was surprised to see the 925 Don Mills Express buses, and actually took one from Pape subway station to my Spanish class at Overland Learning Centre, only to find out (not surprising) it was cancelled.

    The day after the last snow storm (January 28), there was blowing snow (January 29) and service was cancelled on all 900-series number espress routes; however local service was increased. What action is expected after this storm is over? Will there be the cancellation of service on 900-series express bus routes and increased local service (just like after late January’s snow storm)?

    Steve: You should direct your questions to @ttchelps via Twitter, not to me. So far during this storm there has been no announcement about the express bus network.

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  31. Today, the TTC was running shuttle buses on its “512 St. Clair West” route, in the wake of yesterday’s blizzard-like snow storm, and freezing rain. The reason for this is potential accumulation of ice on the overhead wires and concrete-embedded track, and the possibility of power outages.

    The first phase of construction on KQR will begin around the next schedule change date of Sunday, March 31, 2019. The TTC will replace streetcars with shuttle buses (on “501 Queen” and “504 King”), ahead of that start date. Looking back to past construction projects: from 2012 to 2014, TTC track was replaced on Queens Quay West. On July 29, 2012, the TTC took streetcars off the “509 Harbourfront” route and replaced them with shuttle buses, well in advance of the start day of phase 1 of the construction on the Queens Quay West tracks.

    Steve: I don’t think so. The reason that the service changes occurred before construction start on some previous projects was that the schedule change did not coincide with the project work. Reorganizing the routes on the level required for the KQR project is too big to be done without new schedules.

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  32. Today, the TTC was running buses instead of streetcars on its “506 Carlton” route. Tomorrow, the “505 Dundas” route enters its second year of bus operation. That started February 18, 2018 and on that same date “506 Carlton” route switched to bus operation (and a few months ago and currently uses the older CLRV streetcars).

    The “511 Bathurst” route continues to operate with buses, and for how much longer? When streetcars return to this route, will it be older (CLRV) streetcars, or Flexity Outlooks?

    Steve: As I have said many times, I don’t know, and I doubt the TTC has firm plans either. Stop posting the same questions.

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  33. The next schedule changes is March 31, 2019. The “511 Bathurst” route continues to operate with shuttle buses until further notice, or until more streetcars become freed up by upcoming construction projects, which require a switch to shuttle bus operation. Recently, I saw Flexity Outlook 4572 operating on the “504 King” route. How many Flexity Outlooks are now in circulation?

    In March, there is the National Home Show and Canada Blooms, at the Enercare Centre at Exhibition Place. Later that same month is the One-of-a-Kind Spring Show and Sale, running from March 27-31, at the Enercare Centre, Exhibition Place. Many people heading to those events take the TTC to and from them, and they would most likely ride the shuttle buses (maybe streetcars on March 31) on the “511 Bathurst” route.

    Steve: As you will see in another post, the planned work at King-Queen-Roncesvalles has been deferred to 2020. This means that the planned route changes and redeployment of streetcars will not occur at the end of March.

    In my reply to another comment yesterday, I noted that at the moment I wrote, about 7:20 am on February 21, there were 87 Flexitys in service on various routes. The TTC hit a total of just over 100 on the worst of the deep freeze days recently. Getting an exact count of available cars is a bit tricky because a few of them are off for major repairs at Bombardier. The total fleet delivered so far is cars 4400-4526 (Thunder Bay cars) and 4572-4573 (Kingston cars), a total of 129. Of these, a few are still in the acceptance stage, and some are at Bombardier. It would be reasonable to use 120 as the currently available number. That would give a 20% spare ratio over 100 cars in revenue service.

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