Service Quality on 85/985 Sheppard East: May-June 2022

This article continues a series reviewing service quality on major routes lying primarily in Scarborough. See also:

Routes still to come in this series include:

  • 102/902 Markham Road
  • 43/943 Kennedy
  • 68/968 Warden
  • 38 Highland Creek

Routes in the Eglinton-Kingston corridor will be reviewed as part of a “red lane” update in the Fall.

Service on Sheppard East has three distinct components:

  • The main 85 route operates from Don Mills Station to Rouge Hill GO Station with a short turn service to Meadowvale Loop and limited service on a branch to the Toronto Zoo.
  • The express service operates two branches from Don Mills Station to Scarborough Town Centre (985A) and to Meadowvale (985B). Weekend service was restored on May 8, 2022. The express service is scheduled to operate with articulated buses.
  • A separate branch operates between Yonge-Sheppard and Don Mills Station providing a surface alternative to Line 4 Sheppard Subway.

Here is the summary information for schedules in effect during May and June 2022.

85 Sheppard East Local Service

985 Sheppard East Express

The service in effect until May 7 is shown below. Express service was suspended on weekends as part of the pandemic cuts. Sheppard East is an unusual route in that the “express” service runs more frequently than the “local” service. The express portion of the route extends east to Morningside Avenue during peak periods. During off-peak periods, the express service ends at Midland where the 985A branch turns south to Scarborough Town Centre.

On May 8, the weekend express service was restored. Note that there was no corresponding reduction in the local service, and so this was an improvement to the route.

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TTC Announces 2022 Tiff Diversions

Updated September 7, 2022 at 3:30pm: The TTC has updated its description of the 504 King diversion to reflect the fact that the King/Sumach intersection is not yet open. All east end 504 streetcars will run as 504B between Broadview Station and Church. There will be no service on Sumach/Cherry to Distillery Loop.

The Toronto International Film Festival will block King Street again this year causing chaos on transit service downtown. However, the planned diversions are different for 2022 given that 504 King is already broken into two routes, east and west, thanks to various construction projects.

Here is the map of the planned service. (Sorry about the resolution. This is what is on the TTC’s site.)

Update: The map below has been revised to show only the 504B service. It also shows the Dufferin/Queen diversion in Parkdale, but as I write this, many buses are now operating via King Street both ways.

The 504C bus (the west end service already diverting around construction at Shaw Street) will divert around Tiff via Spadina, Richmond/Adelaide and University Avenue. Given the lack of bus-based transit signal priority in this area, the buses should spend a lot of time waiting to make turns.

The 504C bus now terminates at York, but it will be extended to loop via George, Front and Jarvis (another badly congested street). Extra service will be provided, according to the TTC, but as extras don’t show up on the vehicle tracking apps, riders will be frustrated in knowing when or if something will show up.

Meanwhile the King car will operate with a 504B service from Broadview Station to Church, and a 504A service to Distillery Loop (assuming that the King/Sumach intersection is actually open by then). This could very well be another case of the TTC issuing customer information that is not grounded in the reality of what is happening on the street.

The 503 Kingston Road service will be reduced to a shuttle between Bingham and Woodbine Loops on Kingston Road.

This operation is planned to occur from 5 a.m. Thursday, September 8 to 5 a.m. Monday, September 12, as well as from 3:30 to 6:15 p.m. and 7 to 9:30 p.m., Monday and Tuesday, September 12 and 13, 2022. It is not clear how the transition will occur for the PM peak periods on September 12/13.

The 304 King Night Bus is supposed to run from Broadview to Dundas West Station, but I suspect that it will have to divert around Tiff at least for the period of September 8-12 due to the Tiff Festival setup in the road lanes of King Street.

Service Changes Effective September 4, 2022 (Updates)

Updated September 3, 2022 at 8:45am: Additional diversion details with maps added.

Updated September 3, 2022 at 1:40pm: Photos of Church & Carlton added.

Updated September 3, 2022 at 4:10pm: Route of 506 shuttle bus clarified.

Updated September 5, 2022 at 7:30am: Additional details regarding 504 King and 63 Ossington diversions which are not yet operating as advertised.

Updated September 10, 2022 at 6:25pm: The City of Toronto has announced that the KQQR intersection and construction will switch to “stage 3” configuration on Tuesday, September 13. Construction work on College Street will begin on Monday, September 12. There is no announced re-opening date for King & Sumach yet.

Updated September 13, 2022 at 10:15pm: As of about noon today, the 504C King bus was operating via the “Stage 3” KQQR routing using Parkside Drive.

Some of the streetcar service changes originally planned for September 4 will not occur on that date because of construction projects that are running late.

503/504 King/Kingston Road Diversion via Queen & Parliament

The construction at King and Sumach is not yet complete and this will have the following effects:

  • The 503 Kingston Road cars will continue to divert via Queen & Parliament to route.
  • The 504A King to Distillery cars will be routed nominally to Broadview Station via Queen & Parliament, although I suspect there will be a lot of short turns as their schedules do not have enough running time for this.
  • The 504B King to Broadview Station cars will continue to divert.

The 504/506 shuttle bus which, at least in theory, provided service to the Distillery District, will not be continued due to low ridership. One might observe that the appalling headways on this route contributed to its invisibility and low use.

Riders are advised to use the 121 Esplanade/River service instead.

KQQR Project Diversion

The TTC has a handout for the change to the 504C west end bus diversion around both the Roncesvalles project and the new project at King & Shaw starting this month.

Note that this map shows the 504A service restored to Distillery Loop which is not yet the case (see above).

Updated September 5 at 7:30 am: Although the new diversion via Parkside and The Queensway was supposed to begin on September 4, buses are still operating via Roncesvalles. Also, the south leg of the KQQR intersection is not yet open, and so the diversions through Parkdale via Triller to King eastbound and Dufferin to Queen westbound are still in effect.

The intersection of King and Shaw has not closed yet, and eastbound buses are operating straight through without diverting via Douro Street. Westbound buses are diverting via East Liberty Street as shown on the map.

According to the City’s project site, the north leg of the KQQR intersection is to close on September 6, but the same page also advertised the opening of the south leg on September 2.

At Dundas West Station, 504 King buses appear to still be loading on the street, not in the loop, based on tracking data from NextBus.

Updated September 13, 2022 at 10:15pm: As of about noon today, the service was operating via Parkside Drive as shown in the map below.

63 Ossington King/Shaw Diversion

In addition to the diversion of bus replacement service for the 504 King car shown above, the 63 Ossington bus will change its south end loop as shown below.

Updated September 5, 2022 at 7:30 am: The extended loop had not yet gone into operation because the King & Shaw intersection is still open.

506 Carlton Diversion

By September 4, the work at Church & Carlton was supposed to be complete and the streetcar diversion for the Bay-to-Bathurst project was supposed to begin via Bay-Dundas-Ossington. However, there was a surprise thanks to Toronto Hydro at Church and Carlton where a vault under the intersection conflicts with the new, lower foundation that the TTC would have installed.

Pending a resolution of this problem, the 506 Carlton cars will divert via Parliament-Dundas-Ossington.

The 506 shuttle bus was already planned to operate from Ossington to Castle Frank Station, and so it will cover the extended diversion to Parliament Street although how the transfer connection to the streetcars at Gerrard will work is not yet clear. The service announcement on the TTC’s website does not include a map showing the relationship between the shuttle bus and the diverted streetcar.

Update: A reader has advised that there are notices showing that the bus will divert via Sherbourne, Gerrard and Parliament to retain a connection with the streetcars at Parliament and Gerrard. The stop on Carlton at Ontario will be skipped.

Here is the state of the Church/Carlton intersection on September 3, 2022:

King / Sumach Construction Progress

The intersection of King and Sumach Streets is the point where the former 514 Cherry, now the 504A King branch, splits off southward to Distillery Loop. It has been the subject of many complaints about noise over the years. The TTC has attempted various fixes with less than ideal results.

At the beginning of August 2022, the 504 King and 503 Kingston Road services began diverting around this location via Queen and Parliament, although actual construction did not get under way for a few weeks. Now, the work is incomplete, and the originally hoped-for restoration of service on September 4, something that is built into the September schedules, will not actually happen until later in September.

During that period, the “504A” cars will continue to operate as “504B” to Broadview Station, although I suspect that many will be short turned as they do not have enough running time to make such a long extended trip.

When this project began, I thought that we might see the implementation of double blade switches here, but that is not the case. There is no change in the facing point switches at this intersection.

Here some photos of work at King and Sumach as it progressed. The purpose was not a complete replacement but rather to do selective maintenance. In a way, this makes the work a bit more tedious than simply ripping up the whole thing, trucking in new, pre-assembled track on panels, and dropping the rails into place over a week or less.

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