Streetcar Network Changes Coming in September 2019

Several streetcar routes will be affected by construction, schedule changes and the continuing shift from CLRVs to the low-floor Flexitys effective September 1, 2019. I will publish the detailed service plans with my overview of all schedule changes taking effect on that date, but here is a preview of the route changes.

Kingston Road & Queen Construction

Two projects will block streetcar service from The Beach from September 1 until mid-November:

  • Watermain replacement
  • Special trackwork replacement at Kingston Road including Woodbine Loop

501 Queen Service

The 501 Queen route will be operated with several overlapping services:

  • Regular 501A Queen cars will operate between Humber Loop and Russell Carhouse.
  • Buses on 501R will operate between River Street and Neville Loop diverting via Woodbine, Lake Shore and Coxwell.
  • Service to Long Branch on 501L will be provided by low-floor cars running from Humber to Long Branch on ten-minute headways at all times.
  • Late evening service will run through from Long Branch to Russell Carhouse.

Tripper services will operate including the restoration of 508 Lake Shore:

  • Bus trippers on 501 Queen will operate westbound from Coxwell rather than from Kingston Road. In the PM peak, eastbound trippers will run through to Neville using the same diversion as the 501R.
  • Streetcar trippers will operate on 508 Lake Shore with five trippers in each peak period.
    • In the AM peak cars will follow the Queen route from Long Branch to Roncesvalles, then run east to Parliament via King Street. They will return to Roncesvalles Carhouse via Parliament and Carlton/College, a route used by Long Branch trippers years ago to provide supplementary westbound service on Carlton to the University of Toronto. Cars will leave Long Branch Loop between 6:40 and 8:10 am.
    • In the PM peak, the trippers will run east from Roncesvalles to Broadview via King, then loop via Broadview, Dundas and Parliament running west from King and Parliament to Long Branch. Cars will leave Church Street westbound between 4:20 and 5:40 pm.

Overnight service on 301 Queen will terminate at Russell Carhouse, and it will continue to operate on the recently-established 15 minute headway. A 301B bus shuttle will operate from Russell Carhouse east to Neville diverting around the construction zone.

502/503 Downtowner/Kingston Road

For the duration of this project, the 502 and 503 services will be consolidated as 503 Kingston Road, and this route will operate from Bingham Loop to York Street. There will be no 502 bus service to McCaul Loop.

Service will divert around the construction site via Dundas and Coxwell both ways.

The downtown loop will be changed from the usual 503 arrangement. Buses will not operate on Wellington, but will continue on King to York Street. They will then turn north on York to Richmond, west to University and south to King Street. The layover point will be on York Street north of King.

22/322 Coxwell

During weekday daytime, the 22B Coxwell service will use Coxwell-Queen Loop rather than the longer route via Eastern Avenue which will be blocked by construction.

Evening and weekend service on the 22A and 322 services to Victoria Park will divert both ways via Dundas Street but will loop south to Queen via Coxwell-Queen Loop.

512 St. Clair

With the addition of low-floor service to Long Branch operating from Roncesvalles Carhouse, the 512 St. Clair route will move back to Leslie Barns. The carhouse routing will be via Queen, King and Bathurst, and cars will operate with pantographs up over these trips. This will mark the first scheduled pantograph operation over portions of these streets.

The operator relief point will be moved east from Lansdowne to St. Clair Station.

Carhouse Allocations

The routes and vehicles will be allocated to carhouses as shown below. Note that these are the scheduled service numbers, not the total fleet including spares.

Current plans are to begin conversion of 506 Carlton to Flexity operation later in the fall, but the details of this have not yet been published.

19 thoughts on “Streetcar Network Changes Coming in September 2019

  1. The Queen Coxwell loop, being put into use, will dictate the constriction immediately to the east, stop use of the loop to unload supplies.

    Steve: With the work zone lying from well east of Coxwell to east of Woodbine Loop, the loop at Coxwell is hardly a convenient lay down spot for supplies.


  2. Given the likely congestion around Queen and Coxwell particularly with 501s crossing into/out of Russell, trying to force diverted 503s through there rather than sending them further along Dundas and down Jones (if not further west) seems likely to give a poor transit experience, no?

    Steve: The Queen car only runs every 6’30” at peak on the September schedule, and I don’t think it will make for much interference at Russell. Between the 503 and the 501R, there will be a bus every 2.5 to 3 minutes each way at Coxwell at peak. Not exactly a recipe for congestion.


  3. I can’t find anything on this on the TTC’s website. Do you know how long these changes are supposed to remain in effect for? And do you know which streets the 501R buses are going to use to turn around at the western end of their route?

    Steve: These changes will not be posted on the website until closer to September. They still have the August changes to do first. I have the detailed service memo for the September changes, and that’s where the info comes from.

    As I said in the article, the construction is expected to run to mid-November.

    The 501R will loop via King, River and Queen, the same loop used by this route during the reconstruction of Queen and Coxwell a few years ago.


  4. Thanks for the info Steve, just 2 questions

    Do you know when the fall comes if the 506 or 511 will be prioritized to get low floors first? Recently the 511 has been running about 7 CLRVs and 4-5 Flexities on a typical weekday and mostly/only CLRVs on weekends

    Secondly, just to confirm, the 508 Lake Shore will be official right? Like with its own route map and route number and not just an addition to the 501. I only ask this because today we have the 501L which is essentially the 507 but not officially.

    Steve: I think that 506 comes first.

    According to memo describing all of the changes, the Lakeshore car will be 508.


  5. So there’s no news on the return of the 505?

    I never thought I’d be able to see the 508 another day in my life, but I’m really happy it’s returning.

    Steve: Sometime next year, spring maybe, but there’s nothing definite yet.


  6. Any word on a final date for the CLRVs in revenue service?

    Steve: No. It depends on Bombardier’s delivery rate, although I doubt they will survive much into 2020.


  7. Do you know when the fall comes if the 506 or 511 will be prioritized to get low floors first? Recently the 511 has been running about 7 CLRVs and 4-5 Flexities on a typical weekday and mostly/only CLRVs on weekends

    It’s as Steve thought would happen where the Flexities would take the place of the ALRV’s scheduled for the 511 because at this point the ALRV’s are all gone. On the weekends there could be many more out there but I assume dispatching practices prevent them from doing so.

    They’ve been holding at around 95 cars dispatched on Sundays with none on the 511, not even during the Indy weekend unless there were unscheduled extras that didn’t show up on Nextbus.


  8. You can bet Steve, when the 506 College/Carlton starts getting the new Flexity LFLRV this fall, the older CLRVs won’t be gone immediately, there will likely be a prolonged transition period of mixed fleet of CLRVs and Flexity LFLRVs (probably about 6 months or so) prior to full Flexity LFLRV conversion given its a long route, like the 501 Queen and 504 King routes are.


  9. After the construction is completed, will the 502/503 get streetcars back?

    Steve: I doubt it. The TTC does not have enough cars.


  10. I’d bet there’d be enough cars to just run a 502/503 shuttle from Woodbine loop to Bingham loop, and use the extra capacity on 501 in lieu of running any 502/503 west of Woodbine loop.

    Steve: Frankly if it’s a shuttle east from Woodbine Loop just to keep streetcars, passengers would be better off with the Coxwell bus going to Bingham all of the time.


  11. Passengers on Kingston Road and Coxwell would be better off with the 22 Coxwell running the entire route all the time – if it were reliable.

    Generally I find the 22 bus is relatively reliable during rush-hour, as traffic on Coxwell is normally pretty reliable (at least when it’s not closed for construction!). But as soon as 7 pm hits, and the buses are coming from Bingham, that suddenly it’s very unreliable, with all the congestion on Kingston Road.

    Passengers would be better served with one reliable route, and one so-so route, rather than making Coxwell unreliable as well.

    Both Woodbine and Bingham Loops can handle multiple Flexities. They could use those loops with a healthy dwell time and provide a regular reliable shuttle service.

    About a 30-minute round-trip with a 5-minute dwell at peak. Could do about every 7 minutes with only 4 cars.

    I don’t see any other way to restore streetcar service before 2026 (or more likely 2030 if we want to be realistic about if an when TTC order more streetcars).


  12. Not enough streetcars for all streetcar routes to be run by streetcars is a result of the war on the streetcar declared by the infamous Ford brothers.

    Steve: It is also the result of foot-dragging by the TTC and Council thanks to Bombardier’s less than stellar performance on delivery of vehicles ordered a decade ago. This situation makes Ford’s job so much easier.


  13. I actually did the math today and with the TTC’s 20% spare ratio, if the CLRV’s actually go this year then they will have 40 streetcars left for the 505, 506, 511 and 502/503. That the situation was so dire didn’t hit me until now.


  14. Given how dire the streetcar situation is, has there been any movement at the city to exercise some or all of the 60 car option?

    Right now, even though Bombardier’s everyone’s favourite love-to-hate company, that is going to be the fastest way to get more streetcars on the road. It’s also most likely to be the least expensive since the R&D to make a TTC parameter fitting streetcar is already done and those costs no longer have to be recovered vs. the time and cost incurred by another manufacturer reworking a different model to fit the TTC streetcar requirements, plus there’s a good chance of serious concession pricing from Bombardier to earn some kind of goodwill after the fiascos earlier on with the existing order. Even if a three way cost split can’t be arranged with the provincial and federal government in time to do it, and John Tory has to stump up and spend actual Toronto money to do it, with the concentration of wealth in Toronto it’s not like the city can’t scare up the money somehow, the city should order more cars.

    Steve: The short answer is “no”. The slightly longer answer is that (a) Ford’s cuts to the anticipated rise in gas tax allocated to cities has scooped a big pile of cash Toronto had planned for many projects, and there will now be some serious triage of what gets approved, and (b) every penny of the federal Infrastructure funding is tentatively tied up in Ford’s subway scheme. Even if it were not, that program can only be accessed with provincial agreement, and we all know what Ford thinks about streetcars.


  15. If we had enough streetcars, and if the Coxwell track extended to Danforth, and if there was a loop at Coxwell Station, I might suggest the following changes:

    501 routed to Coxwell Station as its eastern terminal, instead of to Neville Park.

    502 operating between Neville Park and downtown with two branches; “A” to King Street (perhaps Charlotte Loop), “B” to Queen Street (perhaps McCaul Loop).

    503 operating as two branches between Coxwell Station and, “A,” Kingston Road (i.e. Bingham Loop), and “B,” Queen Street East (i.e. Neville Loop).

    Steve: Railfan fantasies do nothing to advance the betterment of the transit system. Coxwell Station Loop is far too small to accommodate streetcars for starters, and cutting the service to Neville in half by running only one branch there would render it almost useless.


  16. From what I’ve seen so far, 512 carhouse trips are via poles instead of the pans and to Queen and Bathurst as it had been in the past.

    Steve: Yes. I think the TTC was rather optimistic in claiming that carhouse trips would be via pans all the way. There is a lot of overhead not yet converted, and there are times I wonder whether the TTC even has an accurate map showing what remains to be done given there are odd patches here and there with old style hangers.


  17. Hi Steve, I decided to ask this question now since I think it’s been long enough since the September Board changes with the 502/503 consolidated service have been in effect. In one of your other articles you mentioned this was possibly an experiment for future service redesign and I agree with that, similar to how the 504A/B scheme was born out of an experiment last year. My question is: are you aware of any rider reaction or comments about there not being a 502 Downtowner service? I personally haven’t heard any and it almost seems like it isn’t a big issue. This brings me to also ask what’s stopping the TTC from doing away with the 502 entirely if they can suspend it for 2 months without major issue?

    Steve: There is a proposed map of future streetcar service that TTC is discussing as part of the 5 and 10 year Service Plan that will come out in December. It has already been through public participation workshops, but may change between the current draft state and the final report. That’s why I have not published it yet.

    The plan requires a larger streetcar fleet, but it modifies some routes including the 503 which would run from Bingham to Dufferin Loop replacing the 504B service there. The 504B service would be extended west via King and The Queensway to Humber Loop, and eventually to Park Lawn Loop when it is built. The 504A is unchanged running from Dundas West Station to the Distillery.

    Queen would see two services with 501A from Neville to Sunnyside, and 501B from Long Branch to Broadview looping at Riverdale Loop, a new loop to be built on the TPA lot on Broadview north of Queen (the TTC has owned this for many years, but the new loop project, like the one at Park Lawn, has been on hold).

    Whether the 502 will return in the November Board we will know soon because the detailed memo of service changes will be out in the next few weeks (it should already be available in draft at the Division Offices).


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