Revised TTC Service Changes: Sunday, March 29, 2020 (Updated)

In light of the COVID-19 crisis, some changes planned for the schedule period beginning March 29 will not occur.

Notably, the planned resumption of streetcar service on 505 Dundas will not take place. The overhead conversion on this route is in a half-completed state from trolley pole to pan-friendly wiring.

  • Curves on Broadview from Gerrard north to Danforth have never been upgraded for pantograph operation even though the tangent wire was converted some time ago.
  • The section of the route between Parliament and McCaul has been converted completely for pans, and is not compatible with trolley pole operation.

The TTC has not announced what service level will be provided by the continued bus operation on 505 Dundas.

Updated March 27, 2020 at 5:15 pm:

According to TTC service change pages, the operation of streetcars on 511 Bathurst and buses on 505 Dundas will continue to late April.

Concurrent operation of streetcars on both Bathurst and Dundas would have stretched the streetcar fleet, but the real problem was the beginning of planned work at the south end of Bathurst including bridge construction that would have forced bus conversion of the 511 anyhow. This was to start in March, but has been deferred until May.

The TTC also plans a reduction in 504 King Saturday streetcar service, again due to fleet availability problems. This stems from a planned increase in service on 509 Harbourfront and 510 Spadina to deal with the Bathurst Street bridge work that would have pushed Saturday requirements above the AM peak level. With the bridge work shifted to May, the changes on 509/510 were deferred, but the change on 504 was left in place. All of this of course is subject to future schedule adjustments in reaction to reduced demand.

Other planned construction affecting the Bathurst route this year includes tangent track from south of Dundas to north of Wolseley Loop, and special track at Bathurst Station Loop.

The Scheduled Service Summary for March 29 to May 9, 2020, shows the service as originally designed. When any additional details of changes are announced, I will update this article.

15 thoughts on “Revised TTC Service Changes: Sunday, March 29, 2020 (Updated)

  1. The TTC is also identifying the deferred 505 streetcar reinstatement as due to unforeseen delays in upgrading streetcar overhead infrastructure between Spadina Avenue and Parliament Street as per this notice.

    Steve: Thanks for picking up that notice. The TTC service changes pages are a moving target these days. It’s good to see that they still contemplate actually finishing the work.

    However, the actual problem between Spadina and Parliament is that they switched the overhead completely to pan-only rather than just making it pan and trolley pole compliant expecting to go to pan operation on the 505. Somebody in the streetcar overhead department completely forgot about the curves on Broadview that most definitely cannot handle pantographs. And it’s not as if the “fan” community hasn’t been sending up flares on this since last year.


  2. I am frankly amazed at the speed (or lack thereof) at which the TTC has done the overhead conversion. Why is it apparently a surprise that sections of the 505 route cannot accept poles and that part of that route has not been converted at all?

    It is also puzzling how the TTC decides to replace old poles with new (and usually add more). For the last few years, as one walked around during overhead conversion projects the first thing you saw was that they replaced some old poles with new ones (actually adding a second new pole beside an old one). Then they added additional poles at places like turns and ‘junctions”. (Presumably the new overhead is heavier or needs more support.)

    Then they started to string the new wire and someone realised that more old poles needed to be replaced and/or additional poles were needed at the turns and junctions. Of course, the return of the pole guys usually took several weeks, during which wire stringing stopped. Maybe not the most effective use of manpower and possibly why the new overhead project has taken so long to complete! (It is worth remembering that at one time only the first 60 new streetcars were to have poles and pantographs; later cars were to ONLY have pantographs.)


  3. What’s the difference between trolley pole-friendly pan wire, and pan-only wire? Is it just the stagger is greater, or is the wire itself completely different?

    Steve: Two things. Yes, the pan-only wire is staggered left to right to even out the wear on the carbons on the pan. This stagger is bad for trolley poles because the shoes would not be aligned with the wire leading to extra wear and possible breaks. The other difference is that pan-only wire is set up for self-tensioning with segments of wire terminating at locations where there is a counterweight. At these locations one wire ends and a new one begins beside it. Pans float over this easily. Trolley poles would track the wire that ends.

    Eventually frogs at intersections will be removed and pans will simply track from one wire to another. If you look closely you can see how the wires now in place run through the frogs and then in a straight line off to a support pole so that the wiring is already aligned as it will be after the conversion is completed.


  4. Whenever the TTC will get it’s act together and finally finish converting the overhead, will the trolley poles be removed from the Flexitys? Also, is there any word on pantographs for the heritage fleet, and is it true that car 4089 is under restoration at the TTC?

    Steve: The conversion isn’t supposed to be finished until after the King-Queen-Ronces intersection is rebuilt (with a new layout) next year. The new overhead will go up there as part of that project, but aligned to the new tracklayout (which I really should write an article about).

    Carlton will be shut down this summer, and the plan to finish that route during the shutdown so that it can go with pans when it comes back later. A lot of the route is done already.

    There would actually be a staged changeover because once everything is officially set up for pans, then they have to go back and take the frogs out of the intersections and adjust overhead that currently supports both pans and poles to be pan-only.

    There were rumblings of equipping the heritage fleet, but in the current situation I doubt that’s exactly high priority.

    I don’t know anything about 4089.


  5. Steve, work on the Bathurst Street bridge, which was supposed to begin in April, has been postponed until May of this year. The “511 Bathurst” route will continue to operate with streetcars for another month, and the “505 Dundas” route will continue with temporary bus replacement. When the former (“511 Bathurst”) route switches to temporary bus replacement (also known as ‘shuttle bus operation’) ahead of the scheduled date of construction on the Bathurst Street bridge. there will be service increases on the “510 Spadina” and “509 Harbourfront” routes.

    I continue to use “511 Bathurst” to get to and from places of interest near the southern terminus of this route – Exhibition loop – such as Liberty Village (to do some shopping for groceries at the Metro supermarket), Exhibition Place, and Ontario Place.

    Steve: You don’t quite have it right. The switch to buses will probably happen before work on the bridge closes Bathurst Street. Service on 509 Harbourfront and 510 Spadina won’t increase until the mid-May schedule change when 511 Bathurst will be cut back to Front Street.


  6. The King Street Pilot was approved and made permanent based on streecar ridership but now that streecar ridership has declined by over 95%, the King Street Pilot should be suspended as it is a waste of road space. Toronto Police announced free street parking in a bid to fight the pandemic but alas, there is no street parking left thanks to ill thought projects like the King St Pilot.


  7. Mikey, just wondering where on King are you looking to park? Vast majority of the businesses there are closed anyhow.

    On upside, there was hardly any enforcement of the King Street regulations before, so it won’t be much of a change if they don’t enforce it at all!


  8. @Jarek – Sorry I misspelled ‘streetcar’. Regarding lack of enforcement, don’t you realise that there are unused benches, even rough shaped logs of tree extremely uncomfortable to sit on, etc blocking road space on King? If I park my car on one of the only two lanes available (one for going west and one for going east, this will effectively block all streecars on the route, can you assure me that my car will not get towed?


  9. I can totally assure Mikey that his (?) car won’t get towed. So no worries, just park there, and walk off to wherever you are needing to go. I’m sure the car will be right there when you get back in an hour or two.

    Note, this advice has a totally money-back guarantee! And it’s totally worth what you paid for it!


  10. Alright, a somewhat serious answer. If you park on the tracks you will of course get towed.

    After the transit pilot changes, but before the pandemic, based on riding streetcar and bicycle on King Street between Bathurst and Bay, pick-up and drop-off spots (official or not) were in practice available within a 1 minute walk of basically everywhere on King. (Possibly the only exception would be between Bay and York, where there are a lot of taxi stands.) Now, with vastly less traffic, pick-up and drop-off can only be easier.

    Most businesses still operating on King are going to be food places, and in practice it will not be difficult to pick up an order from them.

    Vast majority of other companies on King are not deemed essential by the provincial government. The ones that are deemed essential and don’t have employees working from home are likely to be in financial district office towers – where you couldn’t street-park before the transit pilot program anyway. The residents of the area, if they have a car, couldn’t street-park it on King before the transit pilot either.

    So I ask again – where on King are you looking to park a private vehicle to fight the pandemic?

    And if we’re talking about wastes of space – with vastly less car traffic, the empty four-lane King Street outside the “Pilot” area is a waste of perfectly good space that could be used by pedestrians who physically can’t pass each other 6 ft apart because the sidewalks are not wide enough.


  11. Time to revisit the Rear Door Loading Only policy. Aside from a BIG increase to fare dodgers (I see them DAILY) there is a rider safety aspect for those needing the lowered front entrance because of mobility issues and lifting shopping carts etc. on and off.

    The Operator’s moveable clear panel should be fitted with an extention to cover the small open portion and angled so there is rider access to the fare box for cash payment. Self-serve transfer holder can also be accessed that way. The small open portal with tiny holes to talk through can be covered with a thin filter mask or blocked off if need be.

    Riders are already compelled to stand behind a painted and signed line that has been relocated farther back. Not necessary to remove further rider capacity with possible exception for newer models which have a seat squeezed right behind the operator (driver) although it already appears isolated.


  12. Starting this month, there are now some artics (articulated buses) on the “89 Weston” route. What’s the reason for this? Is it to increase service, encourage physical distancing, or both? This bus route – and the “41 Keele” is operating from High Park subway station.

    Steve: Normally 41 Keele runs with artics, but with the 941 Keele Express buses running local, this probably frees up some artics for Weston Road. The TTC is rearranging service and capacity to where it is needed.

    As for these routes running to High Park, yes, that was one of many changes included in my summary of TTC service changes and in their own announcements.


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