King-Queen-Queensway-Roncesvalles Update: November 26, 2022

The KQQR project is heading into the home stretch with work now underway on the North Gate to Roncesvalles Carhouse, and roadway construction and paving on The Queensway west to Parkside Drive. Alas, there is no announced completion date.

At the North Gate, recently completed utility work allows the area to be excavated in preparation for the new special work. This track has not yet been rebuilt to current standards (a program that will take years to complete as the cycle time is 20-30 years) with a concrete foundation, pre-welded track mounted on panels, and a top layer of concrete that can be removed for repairs without disturbing the two layers below.

The new track panels are sitting on trailers on King Street east of Roncesvalles awaiting installation.

Meanwhile there is some preliminary work on new overhead leading north into this area, but the main installation cannot occur until the new track is in place and overhead trucks can drive under the new wire.

On The Queensway itself, overhead has begun to take shape at Sunnyside Loop, but it is still not operational. This leaves the 501 Queen service turning back at Dufferin Street.

On King Street east from The Queensway, conversion of overhead suspension to pantograph compliance has finally started. This area and Kingston Road are the last two major areas to be converted.

Along the south side of The Queensway, much of the new curb is now in place and concrete for the new curb lane will likely appear soon, weather permitting. At Glendale eastbound (St. Joseph’s Hospital) the bus stop is even more rudimentary than on previous visits. Passengers wait in the temporary crossing area (which is now at least concrete rather than a wooden bridge), and then move across the traffic lane to board a bus when it arrives.

Between Claude and Parkside (the easternmost part of the existing streetcar right-of-way) excavation is in progress to remove old track and wooden ties in anticipation of completing the new trackwork between Glendale and Parkside.

King Transit Priority Travel Times Update: 2016 to 2022

The priority transit lanes and other traffic measures have been in place on King Street between Jarvis and Bathurst Streets since the fall of 2017, five years ago. This article updates past charts and observations with data to October 2022.

There are three quite separate areas on these charts:

  • 2016 to fall 2017: This is the pre-priority era in which travel times were longer and, during parts of the day, quite unpredictable.
  • Fall 2017 to March 2020: This is the era of transit priority pre-pandemic. There is a marked reduction in both the length and variation in average travel times during most periods.
  • March 2020 to October 2022: This is the pandemic era. A further drop in travel times occurred almost immediately as this period began, and values have only begun to climb upward in recent months.

A troubling question, difficult to answer this early in the “recovery” period, is how far up both average trip times and the variation in these values will climb. Motorist have had free rein on King Street for two and a half years, and the “priority” scheme is a shadow of its former self.

The situation will be further complicated when Queen Street closes for Ontario Line construction and traffic diverts onto Richmond and Adelaide with, no doubt, some spillover to King. There is no sense that robust priority measures will be in place for transit, but instead that the focus will be on moving traffic generally through downtown. Transit will benefit, to the extent it might, from the “rising tides lift all boats” philosophy that sees any benefit to auto traffic as having a spin-off value to transit. That is a false but commonly used analogy.

In the charts below, there two galleries, one with westbound and one with eastbound data. This allows a reader to open the gallery and step back and forth through different hours of the day to see how the data change.

All of the charts have the same layout.

  • The x-axis gives the date over the past five years.
  • The y-axis is time in minutes with the bottom of the axis at 10 and the top at 40. This gives more “breathing room” for the variations as there are “zero” values in the chart only where there are no data due to a diversion or missing data in the TTC feed. The upper value of 40 clips some of the very high peaks, but these are rare.
  • There are two lines showing the 50th percentile (mean, blue) and 85th percentile (yellow) for the travel times.
  • There are various vertical bars marking significant events including the start of the King Street pilot (green), the onset of Covid (brown) and the annual film festival (red, omitted for 2020 and 2021).
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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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504A King Service Returns to Distillery Loop

Effective October 1, 2022, the 504A branch of the King car will return to Distillery Loop. The 504B branch will continue to operate to Broadview Station via Parliament and Queen as shown below.

Source: TTC Service Notice

This is a temporary arrangement pending completion of the re-electrification of switches at King and Sumach. Once that is completed, expected within a few days, the 504B will revert to the standard route via King between Parliament and the Don Bridge. If this situation lasts to Monday, October 3 or later, the 503 Kingston Road car will also continue to divert via Queen and Parliament.

This change will reduce streetcar congestion at Broadview Station because only half of the service will go that far east on the line. It will also eliminate some of the wheel squeal problems at King and Parliament, although not completely until the 504B service returns to its normal route.

Service will return to the Sumach and Cherry Streets that have been without reliable service since the beginning of August. The 504 shuttle bus was extremely erratic with very wide gaps in service, and it as cancelled completely on September 4 even though signs remained on transit shelters advertising its existence. The area is also served by the 121 Esplanade-River bus which has its own problems with reliability.

Updated October 1, 2022 at 7:10 am: The west end of the King car will divert to Wolseley Loop at Queen and Bathurst rather than operating to Exhibition Loop due to trackwork on Fleet Street. This also affects 511 Bathurst which diverts east to Charlotte Loop and 509 Harbourfront which short turns at Spadina and is replaced by a bus shuttle from the to the Exhibition. Normal service resumes on Monday, October 3.

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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