Analysis of 510 Spadina for December-January 2015-6

On January 3, 2016, the schedule for route 510 Spadina changed from one based on the use of standard-sized streetcars (the CLRVs) to the new longer low-floor cars (Flexitys or LFLRVs). This article reviews the operation of the line before and after the new schedule.

The revised service provided an increase in capacity with a replacement ratio of new cars for old on a ratio considerably lower than 2:1, and during periods of infrequent service (early weekend mornings, late evenings), the replacement was 1:1.

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In brief, the service actually operated on 510 Spadina bears little resemblance to the advertised schedule. Headways (the time between cars) are erratic and often wider than the scheduled values for both the “old” and “new” service designs. The proportion of service operated to the three destinations (King, Queens Quay and Union Station) do not always match the schedule, and indeed during January (when only two destinations are supposed to be in use at any time), service to all three persists just as in December.

However, padding the schedule, a tactic used on other routes to eliminate the need for short turns, is impractical here because terminal congestion with queued vehicles would severely interfere both with passenger travel times and with terminal operations. Unlike a route such as 501 Queen where most riders depart from vehicles before the terminal, 510 Spadina has very strong demand to its destinations at subway stations.

Line management consists of dispatching cars and operators as available, and the service levels on each branch do not match the actual design, notably the proportion of service that should operate on each section of the route. This particularly affects riders south of King and on Queens Quay whose service is erratic and below the advertised level even though the area has a large and growing population.

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Charlotte Street Reconstruction

The TTC will be rebuilding the track at the intersections of King & Charlotte and Adelaide & Charlotte beginning on March 29. Charlotte Street forms the eastern part of the loop used by 510 Spadina cars at King Street.

For the period from March 29 to April 10 while King & Charlotte is under construction:

  • 504 King streetcars will divert eastbound via Spadina, Queen and Church, while westbound service will divert via York, Queen and Spadina.
  • 510 Spadina streetcars will all operate at least to Queens Quay loop.
  • A 504 shuttle bus service will operate between Strachan and Church diverting around the construction via Richmond westbound and Front eastbound.

For the period from April 11 to 26 while Adelaide & Charlotte is under construction services will operate on their normal routes, although 510 Spadina cars will continue to operate to Queens Quay rather than turning at Adelaide.

 

The Evolution of Service on Queens Quay

The new, improved transit right-of-way on Queens Quay has been in operation for a few months, and it has had its share, and then some, of problems. These included confused motorists, pedestrians and cyclists who could not figure out the new lane arrangement and signals, more than a few autos stuck in the tunnel entrance at Bay Street, and a streetcar collision thanks to an open switch at the Spadina/Queens Quay Loop.

When the design for the new road was still on the drawing boards, a red flag went up for transit watchers with the number of traffic signals, some fairly closely spaced. The “old” Queens Quay’s signals had their problems, and just to get a semblance of “priority” the detectors for approaching streetcars were moved further and further away from the signals in the hope that they would be able to cycle to a transit green before the streetcar actually arrived.

The streetcars returned, but the signals were, at first, on a standard program with no provision for detecting transit vehicles, although this changed in mid-June with the installation of the new, permanent traffic controllers.

Has there been an improvement? This article reviews current and past operations of the 509 Harbourfront and 510 Spadina cars running on Queens Quay.

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Blue Night Service Expansion: Fall 2015

The overnight “Blue Night” network will see many changes and additions this fall. These will be rolled out in two waves: first with the September/October schedules on Labour Day weekend, and the remainder with the October/November schedules at Thanksgiving.

This is part of a more extensive expansion of service beginning in September that relates to the Ten Minute Network, All Day Every Day service, and improved crowding standards on routes with frequent service. Those and other changes will be described in a separate article.

Here are maps of the network as it exists now, and with the two stages of additions:

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Several of the routes will be renumbered so that the night services match the daytime routes except for the using “300” series. In the case of the King and Spadina night services, they will run, at least initially, with the daytime route numbers because there are no roll signs for “304 King” or “317 Spadina” in the CLRV/ALRV fleet. This problem will vanish as the routes convert to Flexity cars with programmable signs.

All services will operate on 30 minute headways.

This implementation is a work-in-progress, and Service Planning does not expect to turn to the question of timing points until the routes are in place. This is a vital piece of work for a network with wide headways where TTC performance stats show that headway (and, by implication, schedule) adherence is very weak. Riders of these routes should be able to depend on vehicles appearing at expected times and connections to work in a predictable way. This is as important a part of the new service as simply putting the buses and streetcars on the road. If service is not predictable in the middle of the night, riders cannot be expected to use it especially for trips that are time-sensitive such as early morning work shifts.

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College & Spadina Reconstruction (Updated May 8, 2015)

Updated May 8, 2015: The TTC has posted a time-lapse video of the reconstruction for those who want to see the whole thing in two minutes.

On Monday, April 6, 2015, the TTC began reconstruction of the intersection at College & Spadina. The work is planned for a three-week interval, and as of April 10 the project is moving along swiftly. During this work, 510 Spadina buses and 506 Carlton cars are diverting around the site. Resumption of through service is planned for Monday, April 27.

As with all such jobs, the work began with demolition of the existing intersection followed by the pour of a new concrete foundation on which the new track will sit. The track was pre-assembled at Hillcrest Yard and then broken apart into panels which have been delivered to the site on many trailers spotted around the intersection. The TTC’s Brad Ross posted an excellent photo on Twitter of the fully assembled intersection.

Reassembly begins with the diamond in the middle of the structure, and works outward to each arm of the intersection.

My thanks to Harold McMann for the photos of early stages in this work.

Updated April 12, 2015 at 1:40 pm: New gallery added.

Assembly of the intersection began on Friday morning, and two days later, it is nearing completion with only the south quadrant still missing. At the end of the gallery below, the track panel that will be the southbound section of the south quadrant is being reading for its move into position.

Updated April 18, 2015 at 1:10 pm: New galleries added.

Tuesday, April 14: Assembly of the approaches to the intersection is well underway.

Saturday, April 18: Concrete work around the tracks is substantially complete, and some pedestrian paths through the intersection have been shifted onto the pavement to allow work to begin on sidewalk and curb repairs.

4405 Arrives On Spadina

Car 4405 made its revenue service debut today, March 2, 2015, on route 510 Spadina joining 4400, 4403 and 4404 already on that line. (4401 and 4402 are prototypes that have yet to be retrofitted for public service.)

I together with all the riders who yearn for improved capacity on the streetcar system look forward to the day that each new car’s delivery is not cause for its own article.

Car 4405 loads northbound at Baldwin Street.

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Northbound at College Street. The slow order signs for the intersection are due to its delicate condition. The special work will be replaced in April 2015.

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Cars 4403 (northbound) and 4404 (southbound) at Willcocks Street.

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TTC Service Changes Effective March 29, 2015 (Update 2)

Updated February 6, 2015 at 6:10 pm:

A change to service on 1 Yonge-University on weekday evenings was missed in the original version of my condensed version of the changes. This has been corrected.

Updated February 3, 2015 at 11:30 am:

In response to questions raised by the planned changes, I asked the TTC for more details on specific work.

  • At College & Spadina, the platforms used by 506 Carlton will be lengthened, but not widened. They are already wide enough for boarding via the ramps on the Flexities.
  • The 509 Harbourfront route will convert to PoP operation when the Flexities move there at the end of March.
  • Transit signal priority has been or will be restored at various locations on St. Clair:
    • On December 23, 2014, it was restored at Yonge and at Avenue Road.
    • Before March 29, 2015, it will be restored at Deer Park, west of Dunvegan, Russell Hill, Bathurst, Wychwood, Arlington and Caledonia
    • To be completed, but not necessarily by March 29: Ferndale (St. Clair Stn. Loop exit), Christie, Old Weston, Keele/Weston)

The original article from January 31 follows below.

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Streetcars Return to Queens Quay

After a two-year absence, streetcar service returned to Queens Quay today with the 510 Spadina and 509 Harbourfront routes resuming their normal operation.

Construction has not yet finished — there are sidewalks still to be finished, a bit of roadwork, the construction of the new bikeway and pedestrian area on the south side, and finally the trees — but that will all be finished for spring 2015.

For those who could not make it down to the waterfront on a fine Sunday morning, and for my out of town readers, here is a sample of views along the line.

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Flexities Debut on Spadina (Update 2)

Updated September 5, 2014 at 3:00 pm:The Nextbus site now displays wheelchair symbols on route tags for the Flexities running on the 510 Spadina line.

Updated September 2, 2014 at 12:45 pm: Thanks to Darwin O’Connor for the URL that takes us to a page on his website showing where the new cars are located in real time.

Original article from August 31, 2014:

August 31, 2014 marked the reopening of the 511 (oops!) 510 Spadina streetcar between Bloor and Queens Quay, and the introduction of the first two of Toronto’s new fleet of Bombardier Flexity streetcars.

Regular service had been operating since 5:00 am, but the official ceremony took place at Spadina Station at 10:00 with the usual speechifying by sundry officials and politicians. Particularly gratifying were remarks by TTC CEO Andy Byford praising the people who had designed and built the new cars. Politicians show up for the ribbon cutting, but it’s the folks who have spent years to bring us these new cars who did the real work.

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