King Street Update: September 2019 Part III

In this, the final part of the series reviewing operations on the King Street corridor, I present updated charts showing the capacity of service offered at various locations along the 504 King route since March 2016, and a history of schedule changes there since September 2017. The capacities shown are based on actual day-to-day operations and can vary a great deal from the scheduled offerings.

Service Capacity

The values shown in the charts below are based on the TTC Service Standards design values for average vehicle loads during the peak period. It is physically possible to carry more riders, but service is supposed to be arranged so that on average crowding is at these levels. There is always a trade-off between packing more people onto cars and buses, and the extra travel time this triggers with people pushing by each other to board and alight vehicles. “Efficiency” is not necessarily a question of getting the most sardines into every can.

For each location discussed here, the peak hour chart showing 8-9 am in the morning or 5-6 pm in the evening is included in the article, but a set of PDFs at the end of the section contain hourly charts for the four hourly periods from 6-10 am and 3-7 pm for those interested in the shoulders of the peaks.

AM Peak

From Dundas West Station Southbound

The capacity operated on Roncesvalles Avenue from Dundas West Station in the AM peak hour has been quite consistent for the past year except for a few dips, notably during the very cold winter in January-February 2019. This shows that most scheduled service is actually reaching the end of the line most of the time.

The day to day variations are for the most part equivalent to one car’s capacity (130 for a Flexity LFLRV). Eleven cars are scheduled to leave during this hour for a capacity of 1,430, but it would be easy to have one more vehicle slip from the previous hour into this window if it were slightly behind schedule giving a total of 1,560. (There is a similar pattern in the 7-to-8 AM chart which is included in the PDF sets below.)

From Jameson Avenue Eastbound

The data eastbound at Jameson show the effect of additional 508 Lake Shore trippers at this point which added three more cars during the peak hour, or 390 to the capacity of the combined service.

From Bathurst Street Eastbound

The effect of 508 Lake Shore is also visible at eastbound at Bathurst, but of more concern is the raggedness of this chart and the routine fluctation between roughly 2,500 and 3,000 passengers per hour capacity day-to-day. King may benefit from a more reliable trip through the core, but service originating outside of the transit priority area is still subject to fluctuation in capacity.

From Broadview Station Southbound

The capacity operated south on Broadview from Danforth, like its west end counterpart at Dundas West, has been quite consistent for the past year.

PM Peak

From Yonge Street Westbound

By the afternoon rush hour, service on most transit routes is less well-organized than in the morning because of the accumulated effect of traffic conditions through the day. Westbound capacity at Yonge Street during the peak 5-6 PM hour varies considerably from day to day although the 508 Lake Shore trippers have contributed since September 3, 2019. Three of these cars are scheduled to pass Yonge westbound during the hour.

From Bathurst Street Westbound

The capacity at Bathurst Street is slightly different from that at Yonge due to turnbacks at Spadina either on scheduled basis (503 Kingston Road for a time) or otherwise.

From Jameson Avenue Westbound

Capacity at Jameson westbound shows two effects. In the latter half of August, the 504B Dufferin Gate service was rerouted to Roncesvalles, and so more cars crossed Jameson. In September, the 508 Lake Shore service added three cars during this hour above the basic 504A Dundas West service.


History of Service Levels on King Street from September 2017 to October 2019

This section describes the evolution of service on 504 King and related routes (514 Cherry, 503 Kingston Road and 508 Lake Shore) for the past two years. The details of service, running times and cars operated appear in the table linked at the end of this section.

September 2017

Service on King was provided by CLRVs (the shorter of the older streetcars soon to be retired from the fleet) on the 504 route operating between Dundas West and Broadview Stations, the traditional King route for much of the past century. This was supplemented by the 514 Cherry route between Sumach and Dufferin Streets using the low floor Flexity cars. Trippers, mainly buses, added service during peak periods. The 503 Kingston Road service operated only to York Street and used buses because of the streetcar shortage.

October 2017

The 501 Queen service diverted to King Street for track work. During this period, the bus trippers on 504 King were removed so that the vehicles could be used for shuttle service on Queen.

November 2017

The Queen service went back to its normal routing, and the bus trippers came back to King. The pilot transit priority project was implemented in mid-November, but the TTC did not make any schedule changes for several months while evaluating the effects.

February 2018

The tripper service on King was changed to use ALRVs, at least according to the schedule summary, although CLRVs sometimes substituted for these trips because of the declining availability of working ALRVs. The 503 Kingston Road service reverted to streetcar operation with CLRVs, and was extended to Spadina (Charlotte Loop) because Wellington Street was impassible due to construction.

May 2018

The conversion of 504 King to low floor Flexity operation officially begins in the schedules with a mix of CLRVs and Flexitys during weekdays, and all Flexitys on weekends. All King trippers were scheduled to use CLRVs.

This was also the point where the TTC shortened running times and slightly improved headways to reflect the effect of the King Street Pilot. Because the actual time saving through the pilot area was small in proportion to the full round trip time, the headway changes were minor.

June 2018

During the summer of 2018, a completely new service design was used because Broadview Avenue was closed for major track work.

  • Service between Dundas West and Distillery Loops was provided by the 504A route, and 514 Cherry was discontinued.
  • Service between Dufferin Loop and Kingston Road was provided by the 504B route, and 503 Kingston Road was discontinued. During the evenings and weekends, this service terminated at Woodbine Loop as the 504C, and service on Kingston Road was, as usual, provided by the Coxwell bus.
  • Service between Broadview Station and Parliament was provided by the 504D bus shuttle.
  • Peak period trippers operated between Russell Carhouse and Sunnyside using a mix of C/ALRVs.

This design was a prelude to conversion of the route structure to the scheme now in use.

September 2018

Service on King reverted to February 2018 levels and route design, but with few trippers (only two AM ALRV runs), and the migration from CLRVs to Flexitys continued. 503 Kingston Road remained as a streetcar operation with CLRVs with York Street as their western destination. 514 Cherry returned, but this would be the last period of its operation under that name.

October 2018

The restructuring of 504 King into its current 504A (Dundas West – Distillery) and 504B (Dufferin Gate – Broadview) services was instituted, and route name 514 Cherry went into the history books. Low floor Flexitys were scheduled during all periods except the peaks when some CLRVs were used to supplement service.

January 2019

The conversion of 504 King to completely low floor service was officially recognized in the schedule. Route 503 Kingston Road reverted to bus operation.

May 2019

As part of a system-wide review of schedules, travel and recovery times were extended on 504 King. This was done primarily by adding cars while keeping headways unchanged on weekdays, but on weekends there was a mix of slightly wider headways and added cars during various periods.

August 2019 During the CNE

504B Dufferin Gate service was rerouted to Sunnyside Loop after 9 am, but there was no change in the schedule or running times.

September 2019

Routes 502 Downtowner and 503 Kingston Road were consolidated on the 503 routing operating to York Street due to construction at Kingston Road and Queen, and possibly as an experiment for future service redesign. This arrangement will continue until mid-November 2019.


Notes about this summary:

  • All changes are highlighted in red.
  • Scheduled round trip times are shown in the format “A+B” where “A” is the travel time and “B” is the terminal recovery time.

7 thoughts on “King Street Update: September 2019 Part III

  1. The problem on King St as with every other surface transit line in Toronto is that no vehicle comes for a long time and then they all come at the same time.

    I just returned from a trip to the Indian capital. They have excellent subway systems that we could only dream of here in Canada. More and more trains in the Indian capital are going driverless.

    Coming back to Canada, Canada feels backward.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. At some point, TTC in the next 10-to-50 years should upgrade King to a 60 meter LRT.

    Basically the next streetcar fleet would be more LRT-like vehicles, for one route upgraded to 60-meter level boarding platforms.

    I say King is the favourite candidate, if you can ban left-turns from non signalled intersections, curb the lanes, optimize far side, add true transit priority, raise platforms to level boarding with 60 meter yellow edges (like Crosstown, Hurontario, ION). Imagine 6 figure daily ridership on one route by turning it into a LRT train consist. Too bad it will have to be the fleet additional purchases, since the new streetcars don’t have “real” coupler capability for full passengered EMU operations – 2 LRV is feasible once Toronto is ready to give up the car lanes or even block the corridors off to cars.

    If Toronto continues to superdensify, and Ontario starts recognizing other LRTs (once Crosstown, Hamilton, Hurontario, etc are built) then the only difference could potentially be the gauge.

    The voltage is low, but doable for 60 meter level boarding platforms, and would be backwards compatible with the current new streetcars in single vehicle operations.

    The last 40 years was to maintain status quo, but now that we saved the streetcar network and finally started the LRT upgrade momentum (For real), we might as well truly properly LRT-ify the King in the coming decades.

    Metro-class metro-speed performance on a non-metro.


  3. daletaylor2017: If bunching is still a serious problem, then the King line still has a serious problem!

    If it is raining, then it is raining in Toronto.


  4. @ Mark Rejhon

    Budapest has trams about 60 m long, 56 m IIRC. They have 2 pantographs to collect enough power and 9 sets of doors. They operate on an extremely wide boulevard with a private right of way. I saw a couple operating on a very narrow twisting street to get from the car house to route.

    Once the entire line is converted to LFLRV they can increase the voltage to 750 V because the controllers can handle that. It might make the couple of legacy trams they keep go a little faster.

    I think that 60 m might be a tad long for King street.


  5. Uploading subway is a very good idea and is even endorsed by world renowned experts from the University of Toronto.

    While all of us have an opinion on this, it is important to listen to the experts such as the professors from the University of Toronto.

    Steve: The problem with the Fagan/Siemiatycki report is that it is extremely naive about the competence and motives of the crew now at Metrolinx who are the likely agency to inherit an uploaded TTC. Moreover, Fagan has a direct conflict of interest as a former deputy in the Infrastructure Ministry which sees taking on all of the big TTC projects as a way to expand its empire. Just because someone is a professor at UofT does not make them immune to bias or poor analysis. Also “world renowned” is a stretch.


  6. Sorry if I am very uninformed about this, but does the TTC have any sort of plan that I haven’t heard of to deal with the streetcar platform capacity issue at Broadview Station?

    A few weeks ago I had to take the 504 up there twice and each time we had to wait on Broadview since the streetcar couldn’t enter the station. Then last week I was on the 505 and for some reason the driver refused to pass the 504 car sitting on Broadview waiting, so effectively Broadview was completely blocked going northbound and cars were stuck in the intersection honking their horns while the crosswalk was blocked. It was like that for over 5 minutes and when the bus finally turned into the station, there wasn’t any buses there nor did I see any leaving while we were waiting which made me question why the driver was waiting to enter the station.

    I understand that the TTC plans to get Flexities on Dundas next year (so they say???), but some serious work needs to be done at Broadview before that happens.

    Steve: The short answer is “no, they don’t”. The problem lies as much in the scheduling where cars have too much running+recovery time and arrive at the terminal early and/or leave late. Until the TTC addresses this problem and figures out how to give operators end-of-line breaks without causing backlogs of vehicles at terminals, this will continue to be a problem. BTW the 505 Dundas bus has the same issues, and they can’t always all fit on the platform either.


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