TTC Service Changes Effective November 20, 2022 (Updated)

Updated November 20, 2022: Information regarding diversions for 504 King and 503 Kingston Road has been updated with current details.

The TTC is making a few service changes for the November board period affecting mainly streetcars and the Yonge subway (Line 1).

1 Yonge-University-Spadina

With the complete implementation of Automatic Train Control on Line 1, the full route will switch to one person train operation (aka “OPTO”). Service will be improved during peak periods as well as some off-peak. Some running times will be reduced.

The peak service improvement is achieved through a combination of running time reduction and the conversion of two of the “gap” trains in each peak to regular service trains.

501 Queen

The originally announced service for 501 Queen in October would have seen the route extended to Roncesvalles from Dufferin. This proved impractical, and the route continued as it had been in September. The official schedule now reverts to September’s version for both the streetcar and bus services. There is almost no change to scheduled headways.

503 Kingston Road

The 503 Kingston Road car will be converted to bus operation until March 2023 to allow overhead conversion on Kingston Road. The buses will operate to the “standard” downtown route 503 destination at King & York via Wellington.

Update: The downtown loop of the 503 buses will be via King to York Street, north to Richmond, west to University, south to King and returning east.

504 King

The intersection of King & Shaw is expected to reopen in early December for streetcars and buses. In anticipation, the November schedules are based on the service plan after the reopening.

Update: The TTC has posted a service change notice dated December 1, 2022 stating that the reopening will occur in “early December”. December 1st is a Thursday, and so it is not clear exactly when this change will take place. There is no comparable notice for 63 Ossington which is also diverting around King & Shaw.

Before reopening:

  • All 504 King cars will operate to Exhibition Loop, but they will not serve stops on Bathurst or Fleet Streets.

In practice, much of the 504 King service has not reached Exhibition Loop in recent weeks short turning either at Fleet Loop or at Charlotte Loop (King/Spadina).

After reopening:

  • 504A Distillery cars will operate to Dufferin Loop.
  • 504B Broadview Station cars will operate to Wolseley Loop (at Queen & Bathurst).

This arrangement reduces the number of transit vehicles attempting to use Dufferin Loop while this is still the western terminus for 501 Queen streetcars.

The 504C King shuttle bus was originally scheduled to operate to Exhibition via Strachan, but instead it will run east to Bathurst and King looping via Bathurst, Adelaide and Portland. Additional service will be provided if necessary from the run-as-directed pool.

929 Dufferin Express

All trips will terminate at Dufferin Loop.

Seasonal Changes

  • 86 Scarborough service on Saturdays to the Zoo for Terra Lumina will now end at 9:20 pm to match the planned earlier closing time.
  • 172 Cherry Beach weekday service will be discontinued for the winter (typically until May).

The changes are summarized in the spreadsheet linked below.

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TTC Track Construction Update November 3, 2022

Various track construction projects continue into November, but there are signs of progress at some locations.

Updated November 6, 2022 at Noon: Photos of the current state of the King-Queen-Queensway-Roncesvalles project added.

College/Carlton Reconstruction and Diversion

Effective November 2, the intersection of Carlton and Church reopened for streetcars after a long delaty. This had been caused by an unexpected hydro vault under the intersection that conflicted with the new, deeper foundation that is placed under streetcar track.

The 506 Carlton service now operates on the originally planned Dundas Street diversion from Bay to Ossington while College Street is under construction. Here is the updated diversion map from the TTC’s Service Advisory.

The replacement 506C bus continues to operate via Harbord and Hoskin from University to Ossington, and via Gerrard from University to Parliament.

This configuration is expected to last to the end of 2022.

Track reconstruction has shifted east into its second phase between St. George and Bay Streets. Here is a view west on College from University showing the track structure with the old rails removed. The steel ties and attachment points for Pandrol clips are ready to receive new rails.

The City of Toronto’s project webpage contains more information about this status and details of the planned road reconfiguration.

King & Shaw

Construction continues at King and Shaw, but should be finished in time for service restoration on 504 King and 63 Ossington for the next schedule period on November 22. This has not yet been confirmed.

The service alert on the TTC’s website shows the correct routing for 504 services in the west end, but still includes the Queen/Parliament diversion to the east which ended a few weeks ago.

Queen & Carroll

Stop rail replacement on Queen east of the Don Bridge will occur over the weekend of November 4-7. 501 Queen and 504B King/Broadview Station services will divert via Parliament, Dundas and Broadview as shown below.

Although the map does not show this, the 504A King/Distillery service will continue to run on its normal route.

Wellington Street

Installation of new overhead is underway on Wellington, and the 503 Kingston Road car is supposed to resume its loop via Church, Wellington and York with the November 22 schedule changes. This has not yet been confirmed.

Adelaide Street

Track construction has begun on Adelaide Street to restore the link between Spadina and Victoria that has been inactive and unusable for decades. This will provide the eastbound diversion from York to Church for 501 Queen service during Ontario Line construction at Queen & Yonge. The track west to Spadina was included in the project as it will be useful for other diversions including the 504 King car during the film festival which typically closes King Street from Simcoe to west of John.

The construction work will occur in phases as described in the City of Toronto’s project page.

Phase 1A runs east from York to Victoria. This involves the replacement of an old watermain, work that is necessary before the tracks can be rebuilt. This is now in progress.

Phase 1B runs west from York to Simcoe. This is the first phase of track replacement. Initially only the eastbound track area will be excavated. The westbound track will be removed later.

Phase 2 will begin after phase 1B completes. It runs west from Simcoe to Widmer, and is expected to begin on November 7 subject to completion of work further east.

Phase 3 will begin after phase 2 completes. It runs west from Widmer to Charlotte where it will connect with existing track.

Once all of this work is finished, phase 4 will see the pavement marked for a revised configuration with the bicycle track relocated to the north curb lane from Bathurst to Parliament.

In 2023, a separate project will see new southbound track installed on York between Queen and Adelaide, and installation of new track from York to Victoria. The date for this work has not yet been announced.

In the map below, a shared lane is shown on the south side of Adelaide through the construction zone. The lane is actually on the north side of the street, at least as of November 2.

Adelaide Street looking east (on the left) and west (on the right) at University.

Here is a view looking west on Adelaide on July 1, 1967, west of Simcoe. The neighbourhood has changed quite a bit in 55 years.

King/Queen/Queensway/Roncesvalles

Due to persistent fog, I have not visited KQQR but plan to do so soon. I will update this article with the current status and photos in the next few days.

Updated November 6, 2022 at Noon

Here is a gallery showing the current state of the KQQR project.

The watermain reconstruction on Roncesvalles north of Queen completed recently. Concrete around the old track at the north gate has been broken up in preparation for removal of the special work.

At the Glendale stop (St. Joseph’s Hospital) formwork is in place for the new eastbound platform, but buses are still stopping beside an unmaintained dirt area on the south side of the street.

The walkway across the tracks to the eastbound stop has been repaired since my visit a few weeks ago and the handrail is now in place on the full length of both sides.

The new curb along the south side of The Queensway is progressing slowly.

Work at Sunnyside Loop was delayed for construction of a Bell Canada manhole on the south side of The Queensway, but poles required to string the new loop overhead are not yet installed.

According to the most recent construction update from the City, the TTC is considering changing the route of the 504C replacement bus to provide some service on Roncesvalles south of Howard Park, but nothing has been decided yet.

TTC Track Construction Update October 9, 2022

A Word About Diversion Notices

I have often written here and on Twitter about the proliferation of service change cards and posters as the constant changes in streetcar routes occur. Combined with conflicting and out-of-date online information, it is common to find at least two different versions of notices at the same stop, not to mention “stop not in service” notices in locations where streetcars are actually running.

Without question, the constant shifts in the operating plan are challenging to keep up with, but the lack of attention to removal of out of date information, particularly when new notices go up at the same location, does not serve riders well at all. Operating staff, in good faith, give out incorrect info leading passengers astray, and I have rescued a few lost travellers over past weeks.

This is a very serious issue given the amount of construction that will affect TTC routes (and not just the streetcar network) in coming years. Riders have enough challenges with service quality without having to divine whatever route their service might be taking today. There is a clear fragmentation of responsibility for keeping route information up-to-date and consistent within the TTC. Even in a recently announced reorganization, the responsibility for “closures and diversions” is in a separate branch (Operations and Infrastructure) of the TTC from “service delivery” (Transportation and Vehicles).

The phrase “Beware of the leopard”, for those who know the reference, seems particularly apt for some TTC “communications”.

The TTC needs to figure out how communications about service plans and changes can be centrally accessed and administered so that all notices speak with the same voice and contain current, accurate information.

Updated October 9, 2022 at 11:40pm: It turns out that there are four pages within the TTC website where service information might be found. At last count, the list includes:

There is the parent Service Advisories which links three of the four above. Some but not all of the items in the Updates page are also displayed on the main page under “Latest News”.

Although the same topic might be found through different pages, the text is not always the same indicating that multiple versions of the information have been posted. In this situation it is easy for their content to drift thanks to selective updating.

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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:

TTC Service Changes Effective September 4, 2022

Updated:

  • The spreadsheet detailing all of the changes has been added at the end of this post.
  • The number of the Mimico GO shuttle has been corrected to 176.
  • Transfer arrangements at Queen & Dufferin for the 501 bus and streetcar services have been clarified.
  • Transfer arrangements at Queen & Roncesvalles for the 501 and 504 bus services have been added.

Updated September 5, 2022:

  • The spreadsheet listing all of the changes has been corrected for route 504 King. The original version included a description of the route carried over from the August version. This has been changed to reflect the September arrangements.

The TTC will make many changes to its scheduled service on September 4, 2022 with restorations of previous service levels on many routes. This will not get the system back to 100% of pre-pandemic levels.

An important distinction is between three values:

  • The amount of service scheduled before Spring 2020
  • The amount of service budgeted for 2022
  • The amount of service scheduled for 2022

The TTC plans to be back to 97% of budgeted service for bus, 84% for streetcar and 92% for subway. The overall numbers are compared below.

Hours/WeekRegularConstructionTotal
January 2020 Scheduled185,8257,068192,893
September 2022 Budgeted186,3796,398192,777
September 2022 Scheduled177,9304,965182,895

In the original 2022 service budget, the TTC planned to be back to roughly the same level of service as in January 2020 by September 2022. However, slower ridership recovery coupled with staffing constraints produced a lower scheduled service expressed as hours/week.

There are further caveats:

  • The distribution of hours by time of day might not be the same in 2022 as in 2020 because of changing demand patterns.
  • Changes in running times to deal with congestion or service reliability can mean that the same service hours are stretched over wider headways. Not all vehicle hours are created equal.

All that said, there are many changes in service levels, and with the bus network being back to 97%, the schedules for September 2022 are often based on old versions before service cuts were implemented. Another change for this month is the reintroduction of school trips on many routes.

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The Myth of “No Short Turns” (July 2022)

This post includes short turn counts for the month of July on the major east-west streetcar routes downtown. See also:

Updated August 14, 2022: Charts of travel times on King between Strachan and Dufferin have been added to show that although there were congestion problems, they existed only on specific days due to special events, not pervasively through the month of July.

According to the TTC CEO’s Report, short turns (a situation where a vehicle does not reach its scheduled destination but instead turns back at an earlier point) were all but eliminated in May 2019.

This is not to say that short turns should not exist. They are an inevitable part of transit operations where delays can occur, and are essential to restoration of regular service. Back in 2019, the TTC’s problem was that they were used very frequently either as a lazy way to manage service or in response to unrealistic schedules. Now they occur but are not reported.

Meanwhile, other problems with service such as bunching, gaps and missing vehicles are not reported or tracked (at least publicly) at all.

There is no way to avoid saying this: the reported level of short turns is a total misrepresentation of what actually happens on the street as any regular rider knows. Management gets to claim they have eliminated a problem, but in fact it persists.

  1. Methodology
  2. 501 Queen Eastbound at Kingston Road
  3. 504 King Westbound at Spadina and at Bathurst
  4. 504 King Eastbound at Parliament
  5. 504 King Eastbound at Dundas/Broadview
  6. 505 Dundas Westbound at Lansdowne
  7. 505 Dundas Eastbound at Parliament
  8. 506 Carlton Westbound at Lansdowne
  9. 506 Carlton Eastbound at Coxwell

Methodology

From TTC vehicle tracking data, it is possible to count the number of streetcars passing any point on the line. In order to determine how many short turns occur at a specific location, counts on either side of a turnback will reveal the answer.

For example, if the screenlines for counts on Queen are defined as Coxwell Avenue and Woodbine Avenue, then the difference in counts shows how many cars short-turned at Woodbine Loop.

For these analyses, the counts are grouped by hour and by day through a month. Next, all weekdays, Saturdays and Sundays are consolidated to show the difference between types of day. The weekday counts are broken out by week to catch short-lived effects.

Friday, July 1, Canada Day, is counted as a Sunday. Note that this means that there are six “Sundays” and only five “Saturdays” included in the totals. That is the reason the count of trips within the month is higher for Sundays than for Saturdays.

An important distinction in any analysis is between overall averages and a detailed view of operations. TTC has a bad habit of reporting stats, when they do so at all, on a monthly average basis. This blends together periods when service is good with periods when it is very bad giving the impression that things are going fairly well. Riders, of course, encounter and are angered by the bad times which happen too often and fairly predictably.

The raw data are at a minute-by-minute, vehicle-by-vehicle level. In the charts here, I have tried to strike a balance between “information overload” with too much detail, and high level views that obscure what is happening on the street.

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Revised 506 Carlton Diversion Effective July 31, 2022

In my article detailing the planned service changes on the coming weekend, I included a proposed map showing how the 506 Carlton shuttle bus would divert around construction at Church Street. This route has been changed:

  • Original: From Jarvis & Carlton, south to Gerrard, west to Yonge, north to Wellesley, west to Bay, south to College (same route in reverse eastbound).
  • Revised: From Jarvis & Carlton, north to Wellesley, west to Yonge, south to College (same route in reverse eastbound).

The original roundabout diversion was due to concerns that construction at Yonge & College would prevent buses from turning there. Here is the updated map from the TTC’s website.

TTC Service Changes: July 31, 2022

There will be a small number of changes on July 31 for the schedule period running through to the Labour Day weekend.

Line 2 Service Improvement

Service on Line 2 Bloor-Danforth will be improved during all operating periods, notably off-peak and weekends. This will not fully restore pre-pandemic levels on the route, but should reduce crowding that has become a problem over past weeks.

King & Sumach Track Repairs

The intersection of King and Sumach (the point where the Distillery line branches off) will be rebuilt in an attempt to reduce noise and vibration.

During this work, all 504 King service will operate to Broadview Station via Parliament and Queen Streets. The 503 Kingston Road route will also use this diversion.

A shuttle bus will operate to provide access to the Distllery, and it will also provide coverage for the 506 Carlton line during construction at Church Street (see below).

Church & Carlton Track Repairs

The intersection of Carlton and Church will be rebuilt as part of the regular maintenance program. This work will not include the addition of missing curves in the southeast quadrant.

506 Carlton service will divert around construction via Parliament, Dundas and Bay both ways. A replacement bus service will operate from Spadina Station to the Distillery District. The map below shows a proposed alignment for this service. This is subject to change depending on possible modifications to turn restrictions due to construction at College & Yonge.

Updated July 28, 2022: This diversion has been changed. See Revised 506 Carlton Diversion Effective July 31, 2022.

Other Changes

Running times on 32 Eglinton West will be adjusted to provide for delays due to the Line 5 Crosstown Extension construction, as well as to restore covid-era service cuts.

A planned reconstruction of the terminal at Kipling Station will require consolidation of loading areas and move of some routes to stops outside of the station. This project has been deferred to 2023, but a schedule change to support this work was already in the pipeline for the coming period. The 40 Junction and 49 Bloor West routes will be interlined.

Route 172 Cherry Beach will shift from “Old” Cherry Street to the “New” street across the future path of the Don River between Commissioners Street and the Ship Channel. Buses will use Old Cherry Street north of Commissioners Street, then jog west to New Cherry Street to cross the new river course.

Route 174 Ontario Place weekend and holiday service was dropped in June due to conflicting activities at the CNE and Ontario Place grounds. This change is now officially in the schedules.

Details of the new service levels are in the spreadsheet linked below.

Major Construction at Russell Carhouse

Reconstruction of Russell Carhouse will begin both to make it fully compatible with the Flexity fleet, to improve the quality of yard paving and convert the overhead system for pantograph operation.

In the first phase of this work, the site’s capacity will be reduced to 28 cars including spares. Only the 504 King service will operate from the yard. Here is the new allocation of routes to the three carhouses.

Note that the maximum number of cars in service is well below the fleet of 204. Bus substitutions on portions of 501 Queen, 504 King and 506 Carlton will continue through the balance of 2022.

As the work at Russell progresses, the capacity of the site will change.

The Myth of “No Short Turns” (Revised)

Note: Calculations behind the charts in the original version of this article include a methodology problem. Short turn counts for vehicles crossing two screenlines (such as eastbound on Queen at Coxwell and at Woodbine) were distorted when these events did not occur in the same hour. Other problems included double counting of cars that looped twice at a short turn point (e.g. College Loop), and cars that were entering service via a loop being counted as short turns.

Changes in the text are shown by highlighting of the new version. All charts have been replaced.

My apologies for any confusion, but the charts used here avoid the potential confusion of values shown originally.

One of the many annoyances of trying to use transit service is to discover that your bus or streetcar has been “short turned”, that is to say, will not reach the destination advertised. This might happen before you board so that an arrival prediction turns out to be for a streetcar you can’t use, or as a “surprise” when the operator gets on the PA to announce that Transit Control wants to short turn the car.

This has been a problem for as long as I have been involved in advocacy for better transit service.

TTC Board members and Councillors hear about this problem a lot, and they in turn beat on management to eliminate the practice. This can produce unwanted side effects, notably the padding of schedules so that it is almost impossible, at least in theory, for a car to be late and, therefore, short turns should not be required.

Alas it is not quite that simple. Short turns occur for various reasons including schedule issues, crew change timing, major delays/diversions and “operational problems”, that catch-all phrase covering everything from a stuck door to a plague of locusts. (Some explanations for transit service problems have been with us so long they have taken on an almost Biblical character.)

Meanwhile, the CEO’s Report happily tells us every month that short turns are a thing of the past, that they are so rare that it might not even be worth tracking them as a service metric.

Source: June 2022 CEO’s Report

The big drop in the metric in spring 2019 coincides with a point where a “no short turn” edict was issued by the CEO. This is not really practical as there are many bona fide reasons for short turning vehicles, but the numbers obediently went down and have stayed down.

Regular riders, however, might choose to differ in their day-to-day observations.

Since 2019, we have come through the pandemic era when a great deal of traffic congestion and ridership disappeared. For a time, the type of event that would disrupt service was comparatively rare. However, with “normal” conditions returning, service is no longer insulated by these effects.

In my own travels, I routinely encounter streetcars that are not going to their scheduled destinations. Let me be the first to say that I understand the need for short turns, but am rather amazed that the reported counts stay very close to zero. This simply does not match actual experience. A short turn is a short turn, regardless of why it is required.

The question, then, is how to count these events reasonably easily without standing on street corners clipboard in hand. Vehicle tracking data that I already receive from the TTC’s Vision system (and which drives the many arrival prediction apps) provides a simple mechanism.

In this article I will review several common streetcar short turn locations to see what is actually happening.

If readers have specific bus routes and locations they would like to see, please leave your request in the comments.

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The Myth of “No Short Turns”

Note: The charts in this article include a methodology problem. Short turn counts for vehicles crossing two screenlines (such as eastbound on Queen at Coxwell and at Woodbine) are distorted when these events do not occur in the same hour. This article has been replaced with a revised version, but I am leaving the original here for reference.

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