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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

TTC Service Changes Effective June 19, 2022

June 19 will bring the summer schedules on some routes, a return of streetcars at Broadview Station, and various minor changes scattered across the system.

Subway

There is no change in subway service.

Streetcars

With the completion of watermain work on Broadview in May, the streetcar service to Broadview station on 504 King and 505 Dundas will return.

504A Distillery to Dufferin service will remain, but will be blended with the 504B from Broadview Station to Dufferin. The combined service on the two branches will be more frequent in almost all periods than the 504A service now operating.

The 504/505 shuttle bus from Broadview Station to Parliament will no longer operate.

505 Dundas service will operate between High Park Loop and Broadview Station on the same headways as are currently provided just to Broadview. Dundas cars will not return to Dundas West Station until later in the year following completion of new platforms and overhead.

The 504C King/Roncesvalles shuttle bus will return to Dundas West Station, but, like all bus routes there, will loop on street and stop on Edna Avenue (north side of the loop) while work inside the station continues. Other bus routes currently diverting to Dufferin and Lansdowne Stations will return to Dundas West at the same time.

Work on Phase 3 of the King Queen Queensway Roncesvalles project including the North Gate of Roncesvalles Carhouse will begin in September.

Carhouse allocations of 504 and 505 will change with additional 504 cars operating from Leslie, and some 505 cars shifting to Roncesvalles. Allocations will change in August when construction work begins at Russell Carhouse, and again in September with the Phase 3 KQQR work.

There will be seasonal service cuts on several routes:

  • 503 Kingston Road AM Peak
  • 505 Dundas AM Peak bus trippers removed
  • 506 Carlton AM Peak bus trippers removed
  • 511 Bathurst all periods
  • 512 St. Clair almost all periods

See the spreadsheet linked later in this article for details.

From July 11 to August 1, 501L Queen and 301 Queen Night buses will divert westbound from Lake Shore via 15th, Birmingham and 22nd Streets during reconstruction of the intersection at Kipling. Eastbound service is not affected.

With overhead on the central section of Queen now converted for pantograph use, streetcars running between Leslie Barns and routes 510 Spadina and 512 St. Clair will operate via Queen west of the Don River rather than via King.

Buses

Routing Changes Due To Frequent CNE Closures

The following routes will be changed because streets in and near the CNE are often closed during the summer.

  • 29 Dufferin will loop through Liberty Village via King, Strachan and East Liberty.
  • 929 Dufferin will loop at Dufferin Loop.
  • 174 Ontario Place/Exhibition will operate via Fleet, Fort York and Lake Shore for the southbound trip.

30 High Park and 189 Stockyards Interline

Buses on routes 30 and 189 will interline to better use the running time on the combined route.

A new 30B High Park service will operate from High Park Station to the park via West Road and Colborne Lodge Drive. This seasonal shuttle will run separately from buses on the combined 30/189 service.

Seasonal Changes

The following routes are affected by seasonal reductions in demand:

  • 39/939 Finch East
  • 102 Markham Road
  • 905 Eglinton East Express
  • 927 Highway 27 Express

Miscellaneous Changes

  • 21C Brimley service to STC will be adjusted on Sundays.
  • 44/944 Kipling South service will divert both ways around track construction work at Lake Shore from July 15 to August 1.
  • 363 Ossington night service will return to Eglinton West Station Loop.
  • 72 Pape service will be adjusted during all time periods for reliability.
  • 86 Scarborough will have a trip added at 2:13 pm weekdays from Kennedy Station to fill a gap in the schedule.
  • 118 Thistle Down service will be improved in peak periods.
  • 134 Progress service will be adjusted on Saturdays.
  • 172 Cherry service will continue to bypass the Distillery District due to road construction.

600 Run As Directed

The number of scheduled RAD buses has been reduced substantial on weekdays from 40 to 5 crews. On weekends there will be more RAD buses with 39, up from 25, on Saturdays, and 32, up from 21, on Sundays.

Mount Dennis will not have any RAD buses. Details of the crew allocation are in the spreadsheet below.

Detailed Tables of Service Changes

Peak Vehicle Usage

KQQR & Dundas West Update: May 2022 (Updated)

Updated May 11: The schedule for completion of the final phase of the work at KQQR has slipped to fall 2022 according to the project website:

Previous delays, combined with some periods of adverse fall/winter weather, COVID-19 related labour shortages and supply chain issues have deferred completion of Stage 2 work (KQQR intersection, The Queensway and King Street West) to September 3, 2022.

Work on Stage 3 (the final stage) will start on Roncesvalles Avenue from the KQQR intersection to Harvard Avenue on September 4, 2022, and will be completed by the end of December 2022.

Work on the King-Queen-Queensway-Roncesvalles project continues with installation of new overhead at the intersection, completion of some new lane layouts, and utility work along the Queensway. Track construction is moving, albeit slowly, west from Sunnyside Loop toward the end of the existing right-of-way east of Parkside Drive.

At Dundas West Station, the road has just been closed north of Bloor except for a single northbound lane, and on Edna from Dundas to the west end of the loop for special work replacement. (As of May 9/22)

Traffic in the area is quite snarled because there are also minor track repairs underway on Dundas south of Bloor, and reconstruction of Bloor Street continues westward in the area to which much traffic has diverted.

Bus diversions are not the same as originally advertised.

  • 40 Junction operates eastbound to Dufferin Station via Dupont and Dufferin returning westbound via Bloor, Lansdowne and Dupont.
  • 168 Symington eastbound turns east rather than west on Bloor to Dufferin, returning westbound via Dufferin, Dupont, Lansdowne and Bloor.
  • 504C King is supposed to be diverting southbound via Parkside Drive and Howard Park to Roncesvalles, but was running via Bloor and Dundas.

King-Queen-Queensway-Roncesvalles

May 9, 2022

Eastbound road traffic is now using the streetcar lane, but the new lane arrangement and the curb separating the streetcar lane are now in place. The King Street leg of the intersection is complete, but not yet open.

On The Queensway west from Sunnyside, road rebuilding and track installation proceeds in bite-sized segments. It has now reached the point of blocking eastbound access from The Queensway to St. Joseph’s Hospital’s main driveway, and there is still a “slalom” where traffic shifts from the regular curb lanes to the streetcar lanes for a short distance.

Along the south side of The Queensway, utility work is still underway.

Dundas West Station

May 9, 2022

At Dundas West Station, the rebuilt track for the 504 King platform and the exit to Edna Avenue are in place, and excavation for the new 505 Dundas track is underway.

Dundas Street is blocked off except for one northbound lane, and Edna Avenue is closed in anticipation of track replacement for the north and east sides of the loop.

KQQR & Dundas West Update: April 2022

Work on the reconstruction and reconfiguration of the King-Queen-Queensway-Roncesvalles (KQQR) intersection and approaches to it resumed in April after a winter hiatus. Work has also begun at Dundas West Station for the reconstuction and realignment of the streetcar loading platforms.

King-Queen-Queensway-Roncesvalles

April 4, 2022

A significant change at KQQR is the removal of the “slip lane” which allowed eastbound traffic on The Queensway to “slip” past the intersection onto King Street without stopping. However, this created a safety hazard for pedestrians trying to reach the south sidewalk and the bridge to Sunnyside Park. The first four photos below show the construction of the revised junction from various points of view.

The fifth photo looks west on The Queensway at Sunnyside showing early stages of converting the mix-traffic streetcar lanes to a right-of-way matching what is already in place from Parkside westward.

April 20, 2022

By April 20, two weeks later than the photos above, work had progressed to complete the new south sidewalk and to concrete all of the King Street approach. That leg now awaits the asphalt top layer.

In the view SW across the intesection there is a mixture of permanent and temporary poles and signals, as well as the beginning of the spiderweb that will hold up new overhead for the junction. Some of the new traffic signals have been hung, but they are hooded or faced away from traffic pending the changeover from the temporary ones.

On both sides of Roncesvalles north of Queen/Queensway, work has begin on bases for new overhead poles.

West of Sunnyside, work has begun on track installation, but this will be done in stages as road traffic is shuffled around between old and new lanes. In the eventual configuration, the streetcar lanes will be reserved and protected with a curb east to Roncesvalles except where needed for lane crossings.

The TTC has not yet announced a date for resumption of streetcar service to Sunnyside on King and on Queen, nor further west on The Queensway to Humber and Long Branch.

Dundas West Station

The existing King streetcar track has been demolished and excavated for a new foundation. Track for the Dundas cars will be shifted and a new longer loading platform will be provided here.

Looking W through Dundas West Station streetcar loading area

“Snowmaggedon” and the Dufferin Bus

On January 17, 2022, a record snowfall hit the Toronto area. Yes, this is Canada, and it does snow here, although people who live in areas without the moderating effect of Lake Ontario rarely have much sympathy on that score.

A post mortem report on the event will be discussed on March 29, 2022, at the Infrastructure & Environment Committee. As the City’s report on the event summarizes:

On January 16-17, 2022, the City of Toronto experienced an extraordinary winter storm that involved extreme cold temperatures, very rapid snowfall, and an ultimate snow accumulation of 55 centimetres in just 15 hours. The below freezing temperatures that followed the storm and lasted for more than two weeks created a unique set of challenges for storm clean up.

The effects on transit routes were severe, and there was little or no service on parts of the network for an extended period.

Snow clearing took a very long time:

Ultimately, 179,442 tonnes of snow were removed from 3,471 km of roads, requiring almost 60,000 truckloads. Removal was conducted over a 30-day period; however, operations were suspended when additional snow events occurred, meaning snow was removed on a total of 23 non-consecutive days.

Toronto’s snow clearing practices tend to focus on major streets and often do not include physical removal of snow. This effectively narrows roads and limits their capacity until the snowbanks eventually melt. A history of warmer winters and fewer severe storms has contributed to a somewhat laissez-faire relationship to winter that failed Toronto in 2022.

The report speaks to several changes in approach to major storms that will be implemented in early 2023, and I will not go into these here beyond noting the effect on transit.

Two related problems do leap out.

First, the responsibility for various aspects of snow clearing fall to different groups. Roads and sidewalks were plowed by multiple contractors. Sidewalks were, until this year, the responsibility of property owners, but the city’s fleet of sidewalk plows was not yet at full strength, and subject to breakdowns. Bike lanes might or might not be plowed especially if they are simply painted and have no protective barriers.

The result is both a “who does what” clash and a war for space where snow can be dumped before it is carted away, if ever.

Second, the reduction in road capacity causes congestion both by taking lanes out of service, and by parked cars, to the extent motorists can navigate the snowbanks, encroaching beyond the curb lane. This is a particular problem on streetcar routes, but is not confined to them.

Plowing, when it does occur, may not be accompanied by aggressive towing, or at least by temporary relocation of parked cars so that the curb lane can be fully cleared.

Toronto has a network of designated snow routes for major snow events. Most of the territory it covers is in the old City of Toronto with some outlying areas. When a major storm condition is declared, parking is banned for 72 hours (or more if need be) on the streets shown in red below. Most of the suburban city is not included.

The map below is dated October 2013, and it is due for updating especially if Toronto plans to be serious about the quality of transit service and meaningful schemes for transit priority across the city.

In Brief

The major snowfall on January 17 disrupted transit service, and the effects continued for a few weeks after the event. In some cases, buses had not returned to “typical” pre-storm travel times into February.

The location of congestion problems on routes reviewed here was not distributed along them a a general delay, but could be found at specific locations and times where the effect was “net new” after the storm. This suggests that a detailed study of storm delays will reveal key locations and conditions that should be avoided in the future.

On Dufferin, a major location for delays was northbound to Yorkdale Mall, and this persisted for some time after the storm. Normally, problems on routes like this are assumed to arise from their hilly nature, but that was not always the case in late January.

Continue reading

King-Queen-Queensway-Roncesvalles March 2022 Update

Construction has resumed, although not exactly at a “breakneck” pace, at the complex junction of King, Queen, The Queensway and Roncesvalles. Here are photos showing the current state of things.

Slip Lane Removal

On the southwest corner of the intersection, there used to be a “slip lane” that allowed eastbound traffic veering from The Queensway to King Street to bypass the signalled intersection. This was fine for motorists, but a danger to pedestrians. In the new intersection layout, this lane has been removed and the sidewalk will be expanded to make this a conventional 90-degree junction.

King Street Realignment

King Street formerly met Queen at an angle, but this has now been straightened out. With the new intersection geometry, the two streetcar lanes split apart east of the intersection. This will align the future tracks on the north side with sidewalk “bumpouts” for the northbound and southbound carstops.

Track and Overhead Construction

Many new overhead support poles have been installed around the intersection, and they are festooned with coils of future span wires. West of Sunnyside Loop, excavation of the trackbed has started together with construction of foundations for centre support poles.

Planned Restoration of Streetcar Service

In the announcement of February 2022 service changes, the TTC anticipated that 501 streetcar service would be restored to Sunnyside Loop in the May 2022 changes.

In May, the 501 bus shuttle will be shortened from Broadview to University, but streetcars will continue to operate only to Bathurst Street (Wolseley Loop). I have asked the TTC for an update on streetcar service restoration and await a reply.

TTC Service Changes Effective February 13, 2022

In the February 2022 service changes, the TTC will begin to restore some of the pandemic-era service cuts. Many of the affected routes are comparatively short and operate on headways where the removal of one or two buses made a big change in the level of service. At the same time, running times on some routes will be adjusted for reliability including some cases where service is improved by reducing round times.

The total amount of service remains below the budgeted level by 1.8 per cent in light of reduced operator availability.

About 20 crews remain open at each division, and they would be staffed using spare operators or overtime.

Vehicle occupancy standards will be changing for the purpose of planning service levels. I will discuss the TTC’s plans for the timing of service improvements in a separate budget update article to be published soon.

The TTC will be modifying the vehicle occupancy standard in the February board period in preparation for projected increases in ridership in Q2 2022 (50% of pre-pandemic levels) and Q3 2022 (70% of pre-pandemic levels). The vehicle occupancy standard will be adjusted to 80% of pre-pandemic levels or approximately 40 customers per bus in the AM and PM peak periods (measured at the peak point, peak direction, peak hour for each period). In addition, to accommodate this increase in customer demand, service hours are also budgeted to increase in Q2 2022 to 100% of pre-pandemic levels.

Subway

There is only one change on the subway. The step-back crewing for One Person Train Operation (aka OPTO) on the Spadina Subway at St. George Station will be changed to a double step-back to give operators more time between trains and reduce delays.

Streetcar

The following changes will occur on streetcar routes:

  • 501 Queen:
    • Streetcar service is restored via Queen to Wolseley Loop at Bathurst Street. It will be further extended to Sunnyside Loop in May.
    • The travel times on the bus service between Broadview and Humber/Long Branch will be reduced. No buses will be removed from the schedule, and headways will improve.
  • 505 Dundas:
    • The temporary extension to Woodbine Loop has been removed.
    • Four AM bus trippers from Broadview Station that originate from 100 Flemingdon Park have been restored.
    • Service to Broadview Station will resume with the schedule change in late June. (Presumably this will also see 504 King return to Broadview Station as well, although it is not explicitly mentioned in the TTC’s service change memo.)
  • 506 Carlton:
    • Streetcar service is restored over the full route following sewer construction on Coxwell Avenue.
    • Four AM peak bus trippers from Main Station that originate on 23 Dawes, 24 Victoria Park and 67 Pharmacy have been restored.

The total number of buses operating on streetcar routes has been reduced:

  • AM peak: From 88 to 83 (net of 8 restored trippers on 505 and 506)
  • PM peak: From 81 to 66

The TOInview infrastructure project map now includes the reconstruction of streetcar track on Adelaide from Charlotte Street to Yonge Street as a 2022-23 project. This is part of the Ontario Line diversion, but it also will give eastbound service a bypass for events on King and Queen between Spadina and Church. The addition of a southbound track on York Street is not yet listed on TOInview.

Buses

The following routes will see changes, most of which are service restorations to fall 2021 levels.

  • 8 Broadview: Schedules changed for reliability. Late evening headway increases from 20 to 30 minutes on all days.
  • 9 Bellamy: Service improvement weekdays during the peaks, midday and early evening.
  • 11 Bayview: An AM peak tripper removed in error in December has been restored.
  • 12 Kingston Road: Service improvements during weekday peaks, Saturday morning, Sunday morning and afternoon.
  • 20 Cliffside: Service improvements during all periods except Monday to Saturday late evening, and Sunday evenings.
  • 22 Coxwell: Running times increased and service reduced during most periods.
  • 23 Dawes, 24 Victoria Park and 67 Pharmacy: Trippers interlined with 506 Carlton restored.
  • 25 Don Mills: AM peak trippers removed. School trips restored.
  • 42 Cummer: Peak period service improvement. 42C Victoria Park service restored.
  • 45 Kipling: Service rebalanced between Steeles and Belfield branches so that matching headways operate on each branch.
  • 50 Burnhamthorpe: Service improvements during all daytime periods and weekday early evenings.
  • 57 Midland: Service improvements weekdays all day except midday, Saturdays except late evening and Sunday daytime.
  • 61 Avenue Road North: Service improvements weekday peak periods and midday.
  • 76 Royal York South: School trips restored.
  • 78 St. Andrew’s: Service improvement during weekday peaks.
  • 100 Flemingdon Park: Four AM peak trippers interlined with 505 Dundas restored.
  • 161 Rogers Road: Service improved during all periods on weekdays, offset by service reductions in some periods on weekends.
  • 168 Symington: Service improved during all periods on weekdays, offset by service reductions in some periods on weekends.
  • 925 Don Mills Express: Weekend operation restored.
  • 600 Run as Directed: Weekday crews reduced. Weekend crews substantially increased. Although this is not explicitly mentioned, weekend subway shutdowns for maintenance and construction will resume in February.
  • 300 Bloor-Danforth Night Bus: Several trippers have been added, especially on Sundays, to deal with crowding on trips in the period before the subway opens.

Details of these changes are in the spreadsheet linked below.

Queen Street Update – December 12, 2021

2021 has not been a good year for transit service and riders on Queen Street with the combined effect of projects stretching from Neville to Roncesvalles and beyond. Some projects have moved at a glacial pace, when they move at all, because of unexpected conditions discovered during construction, and a sense that fixing them was not exactly the City’s top priority.

This is precisely the kind of situation that leads to eye rolling whenever an agency says that it will close parts of downtown “only” for seven years.

Here, running from east to west, is a review of the current status.

Updated December 15 at 6:30 pm: The 63 Ossington bus resumed its normal route today.

Updated December 21 at 11:45 pm: I have been remiss in not mentioning that no sooner had the Ossington bus resumed its normal route via Ossington, Queen and Shaw, than it was diverted again via Dundas-Bathurst-King thanks to the closure of the Queen/Ossington intersection.

Updated December 22 at 11:15 am: As of this morning, Queen and Ossington has reopened, and the 63 Ossington is on its regular route. However, the underlying map used by service prediction apps still has the King-Dufferin-Queen layout, and service predictions at the south end of the route will be missing or inaccurate until this is changed.

The East End

Conversion of the overhead wiring system for pantograph operation was somewhat spotty east of Queen and Leslie where streetcars from pan-ready routes turned south to the carhouse. Some of the conversion was done under service, and other work was done with the streetcars replaced by buses.

Streetcar service to Neville returned on December 6 replacing a shuttle bus that had operated between Coxwell and Neville Loop. On a quiet Sunday morning (December 12), there were plenty of cars at Neville, but this is not always the case depending on conditions along the route.

Service earlier in the week was very spotty with large gaps from downtown, and an inability for riders to know when service might appear because the streetcar operation to Neville is not part of the “official” schedule transit apps use to make predictions of service at stops.

The overhead within Russell Carhouse is still trolley pole-only. The westernmost tracks have no overhead at all.

Downtown

Officially, the 501 Queen car is still diverting to King via Parliament Street. However, thanks to traffic signals at Richmond and Adelaide that prioritize traffic to/from the DVP over transit, there can be severe congestion in what should be a small link between Queen and King. Some Queen cars travel via King to the Don Bridge to escape from this.

The 501 bus services (one to Humber, the other to Long Branch) continue to operate east to Broadview looping, officially, via Broadview, Gerrard and River to Queen. In practice, some of these buses operate north to Broadview Station although whether they carry passengers is a sometimes thing. This could help to supplement capacity on what has again become a busy link that the 504/504 shuttle bus cannot always handle, but the arrangement seems to be ad hoc, not a formal part of the service.

On King, the 501 Queen cars operate west to Spadina looping via Adelaide and Charlotte Streets.

The current plan is for streetcar service to resume on Queen between Neville Loop and Bathurst Street (using Wolseley Loop north of Queen) with the January schedules.

Conversion of overhead to pan-friendly mode is substantially complete over this section, and at one location, Victoria, is pantograph-only with junctions for curves that have no frogs, only a pair of contact wires.

Queen West

The track replacement project from Bay to Fennings (east of Dovercourt) continues, much to the dismay of local merchants on a street that, by the original schedule, would have been clear of construction two months ago.

According to the City’s project site, the segments of work are being taken slightly out of sequence both for TTC operations and to suit affected merchants.

  • Queen is fully open to Bathurst Street. From there to Dufferin, buses divert both ways via King.
  • Track work and repaving is completed to Niagara Street (between Bathurst and Shaw).
  • Work is in progress between Niagara and Shaw except for the block between Gore Vale and Strachan which has a row of businesses. This will be done last in the project .
  • At Queen and Shaw, the intersection should re-open on December 13.
  • Track between Shaw and east of Ossington has been replaced and been concreted.
  • Track replacement from east of Ossington to Fennings is in progress. The intersection at Ossington is expected to close on December 14. The TTC has not yet announced what will happen to the 63 Ossington bus during this closure, but once the entire section from Ossington to Shaw opens again, the Ossington bus can resume its normal route.
    • 63 Ossington resumed its normal route on December 15.

Despite delays on this project, it is worth noting how fast track can be replaced and the roadway re-opened when all that is necessary is removal of the top pavement layer and track, and installing new track attached to the steel ties embedded in the road. Decades of rebuilding streetcar track to this standard are now paying off.

The biggest delays inevitably occur where other utilities are involved, or where the road geometry is changed triggering utility relocations. Intersections are more complex because the TTC started to build these on new foundations several years after adopting new construction for the tangent (straight) track, and the city has not yet been through a complete round of intersection replacements where new track can be installed on a pre-existing foundation. Even so, the entire Queen/Shaw project from demolition through new foundation and new track installation took only three weeks.

There are construction photos and videos on the City’s web page linked above.

King/Queen/Queensway/Roncesvalles

This project drags along and is at the opposite end of “speedy” projects compared to work further east on Queen.

With the move into “Stage 2” some weeks ago, Queen Street has re-opened for east-west traffic. The 501 bus operates straight through the intersection, and the 504 King/Roncesvalles bus dodges the intersection. Eastbound 504 and 304 (night) buses operate via Queen and Triller to King, while westbound service diverts via Dufferin and Queen.

The south leg, King Street, at the intersection is closed and has been excavated for installation of new curves linking to the special work at Queen. With the change in intersection geometry, the curve will now occur before the switches rather than after, and the intersection itself will be a conventional 90 degree layout on all four legs.

How well this will handle the substantial volume of westbound traffic from King to The Queensway, especially given Toronto’s chronic inability to provide true transit priority, remains to be seen. This was already a source of much congestion especially when construction or special events caused traffic to spill off of the Gardiner Expressway.

This view looks west on The Queensway from Roncesvalles from the west end of the new eastbound loading platform. The mound of dirt west of the intersection was formerly a small pedestrian island that was a refuge, of sorts, for pedestrians crossing to the southwest corner and the bridge to Sunnyside Beach.

A mixture of new and old overhead poles remains here and at some point all traffic will be shifted into curb lanes so that work on the streetcar track and new reserved lanes can occur from Sunnyside Loop west to Parkside Drive.

The paving at Glendale (St. Joseph’s Hospital) remains incomplete, and there are still some Hydro/TTC poles within the curb lane that have not been removed or shifted to new locations.

This entire project is a textbook example of both what can go wrong and of the extended period when road and transit users must endure the shortcomings of project planning and management.

In 2022 the area north of the intersection including the carhouse entrance will be rebuilt. Concurrently, the loading zones on Roncesvalles will be modified to work with the accessibility ramps on the Flexity streetcars. This work is planned for the Spring-Summer construction season, but I will believe that when I see shovels in the ground. Other utility upgrades are included in this project, and that always seems to be a recipe for delay rather than the supposed effect of concurrent, co-ordinated work. See the City’s KQQR construction page for more information.

All photographs in this article are by the author. The diversion map for 504 King is by TTC.

TTC Announces Streetcar Diversions and Bus Replacements (Updated)

The TTC has posted several notices on its website detailing recent and planned service changes on several streetcar routes.

Updated November 21, 2021: Modified to pick up new and replacement pages on the TTC’s website.

King-Queen-Queensway-Roncesvalles Project

The TTC’s KQQR page has been updated to reflect the new routings implemented over the November 13-14 weekend.

With the south leg of the intersection now closed and Queen Street open for east-west traffic, the 501/301 Queen bus service now operates straight along Queen Street.

The 504/304 King bus service diverts westbound via Dufferin and Queen as it has done for many months, but now runs through to Dundas West Station. The eastbound service from Dundas West heads east on Queen to Triller and south to King.

This map does not show the diversion implemented for the track work at Queen and Shaw Streets that requires the 501/301 services to divert both ways via Strachan, King and Dufferin. That project also requires a diversion of 63 Ossington via Queen, Dufferin and King.

There is also a TTC page under their Construction Notices (as opposed to Service Advisories) for the KQQR project. This page is extremely out of date.

Queen East Overhead Conversion for Pantographs

The 501 Queen Streetcar currently operates as far east as Russell Carhouse (east of Greenwood) during overhead upgrades on the east end of the route. The 503 Kingston Road car continues to operate over its full route to Bingham Loop. A 501N shuttle provides service between Leslie Street and Neville Loop.

On November 21, this arrangement will change, and the 501 Queen cars will be extended to Woodbine Loop at Kingston Road. The 501N shuttle bus will loop via Eastern and Coxwell Avenues. The 503 service will remain as is.

This change will remain until January 2, 2022 when streetcar service to Neville Loop should be restored.

Other 501 Queen Diversions

Two diversions are in progress for the ongoing track replacement project on the central part of the Queen route:

  • 501 buses divert between Bathurst and Spadina via the Richmond/Adelaide pair.
  • 501 buses divert between Dufferin and Strachan via King during track replacement at Shaw & Queen.

501 streetcar service will be restored to Queen Street between Neville Loop and Wolseley Loop (at Bathurst) on January 2, 2022.

The map for the diversions is in this notice. That page is now partly out of date due to the extension of the 501 streetcars to Woodbine Loop on November 21, 2021.

Photo by Raymond Lee

506/306 Carlton / 505 Dundas Changes for Sewer Work on Coxwell Avenue

From November 21 until mid-February 2022, the Carlton streetcars will turn back at Broadview via Broadview, Dundas and Parliament. This loop is currently used by the 505 Dundas car due to water main work on Broadview north of Gerrard.

The 505 Dundas service will be diverted and extended to Woodbine Loop via Broadview and Queen Street while the Carlton car is looping at Broadview.