Reinstate the 507 Streetcar

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Historically the Long Branch streetcar has been the link that tied together the villages of Mimico, New Toronto, and Long Branch.

However the increasingly erratic 501 streetcar line service is adversely affecting this link, driving many existing and potential customers to take a bus to the subway or to buy a car.

The Lakeshore Planning Council (LPC) unanimously recommended in our September 2009 meeting that the TTC reinstate and extend the 507 Lakeshore streetcar route between Long Branch loop and Dundas West Station. This would extend the eastern terminus along The Queensway and north on Roncesvalles Drive.

Proposed 507 Route

This will improve service reliability along Lakeshore Blvd and the Queensway, so that the Lakeshore community streetcar riders will no longer be dependent solely on the unreliable 501 streetcar.

In addition, passengers would no longer have to wait to transfer at the isolated and unsafe feeling Humber Loop.

This extended 507 route would also provide connections to the 504 King car and other streetcar routes, greatly reducing the 507 route’s traditional dependence on the erratic 501 streetcar.

The old 507 route’s eastern terminus at Humber Loop is problematic as when the 501 Queen service is backed up in town, Lakeshore passengers are left stranded there.

We understand that the TTC announced that it will trial a split of the 501 Queen route in the October 19 2009 board period to try to improve the 501 line’s reliability. The 501 route split will split the route intown, not along Lakeshore, with the overlap between Dufferin/Lansdowne.

As the split 501 route to Long Branch will still consist of the downtown portion of the route from Parliament Street, there is still very much opportunity for streetcar delays, bunching, and accidents.

Benefits

Current 501 riders along the Queensway would still retain their one seat ride into town, as the 501 would still serve Humber Loop. However the 507 route will also give such riders a direct one seat ride to the subway at Dundas West station. Thus the extended 507 route will give an effective and reliable option for such riders to travel east into town and back, and no longer captive to the unreliable 501 Queen car.

Also, as many 504 King streetcars are short turned downtown and never make it to Roncesvalles, 507 streetcars will provide much needed service along this street.

The restored and extended 507 Lakeshore line would provide much more reliable and regular service along the Queensway, and provide a second all day and evening streetcar line along the Queensway and Lakeshore Blvd.

The current 501 line is the only all day and evening link between Humber Loop and Roncesvalles Avenue. When the 501 line is delayed east of Roncesvalles, riders on the Queensway and Lakeshore Blvd are greatly impacted.

A second all day and evening streetcar route is therefore needed to provide reliable and regular transit service for the 11 km of the streetcar route from Roncesvalles to Long Branch loop.

A second such streetcar route would also maximize effectiveness of the Queensway rapid transit right of way.

Service Levels

The 94 Wellesley bus route is one of the lines proposed in the Transit City Bus Plan for minimum 10 minute service. Currently this 94 route carries about 10,000 passengers a day, and is just over 6 km long.

In comparison, the 501 Queen car west of Humber Loop carries more passengers and is just under 8 km long, but has less frequent and much less reliable service.

Current 501 Queen Service on the Humber to Long Branch section is:
• Weekdays between 10 min 40 sec and 20 min 00 sec all day
• Saturday less than every 10 minutes only in the afternoon, otherwise between 12 min 30 sec and 18 min 00 sec
• Sunday between 11 min 00 sec and 20 min 00 sec all day
(all figures from Stevemunro.ca)

Why do riders of the Wellesley bus get much better service than riders of the 501 Queen car in Lake Shore?

Why should the Lakeshore community put up with years of LRT construction for such lousy service, if the TTC’s not willing to improve Lakeshore streetcar service now?

How can the TTC and City argue for ‘rapid transit’ LRT service along the Lakeshore in the future, when they won’t run streetcar service to Transit City Bus Plan 10 minute minimum service now?

Service Reliability

The Lakeshore Planning Council also has an issue with poor streetcar line service management. Most dramatically this was felt when the 507 line was temporarily re-introduced 2 years ago because of track construction, and resulted in bunching of many streetcars, even though there was little traffic congestion along the route to cause such bunching.

Service reliability is much more important than a one seat ride. If the 501 streetcar doesn’t arrive or is significantly late, the one seat ride becomes a no seat ride.

Recommendations

The Lakeshore Planning Council (LPC) asks the TTC Commissioners if there is an interim report on the timed transfer is being piloted on St. Clair Avenue.

Feedback in the Lakeshore community has been very favourable to the timed transfer idea. So the Planning Council (LPC) requests a similar pilot for the current 501 streetcar route along Lakeshore Boulevard.

6 comments

Wotan
wrote 7 years 34 weeks ago
Wotan's picture

#1

re Paul C's comments

Paul, one must realize that the TTC wants the ROW for the Lake Shore.  However the issue with the 501 is not west of Roncesvalles (where there is a dedicated ROW to Humber, and the Lake Shore west of there), but east of Roncesvalles where the main problems with mixed traffic occurs.  That's why a restored 507 is so beneficial, it will miss downtown and the delays that are created.

Paul C
wrote 7 years 36 weeks ago
 

#2

RE-instate the #507 streetcar

RE: The photo showing the parked streetcars at Long Branch Loop.

But the TTC continually claims to Lakeshore residents that these problems are caused by operating streetcars in mixed traffic - and this will be all fixed with a dedicated, physically separated right-of-way!  Just listen to Mitch Stambler's explanations.

Don't forget - this backup shown here is the fault of vehicle traffic on Lakeshore Blvd. West.

Wotan
wrote 7 years 37 weeks ago
Wotan's picture

#3

Back log at Long Branch Loop

Here are some links to pictures about the Lake Shore's streetcar services:

1)  The backlog we can get now - yet at other times there are no streetcars:

http://tinyurl.com/36ankb

2)  Something that we should be seeing again (i.e. the Humber Loop's western loop being used to get streetcars back onto the Lake Shore):

http://tinyurl.com/ycy76zd

Wotan
wrote 7 years 40 weeks ago
Wotan's picture

#4

Other Benefits of the 507

Other benefits of a restored 507 Long Branch car include:


1)  The ability to short turn 507 cars at Humber.  This way, every second or third eastbound car could short turn at Humber.  Having at least one dedicated car for the Lake Shore.  Remember, the Lake Shore car - between Long Branch and Humber - would connect with GO Transit, the 123 Shorcliffe bus, the 110A/ Islington South bus, the 5 (and 5B) Dixie bus*, and the 23 Lakeshore bus* at Long Branch.  Connections at Kipling Ave are made with the #44 Kipling South bus, and at Royal York Road with the 76 Royal York South bus.

2)  A restored 507 car will provide much needed reliability - which is what the TTC needs if it really wants a ROW along Lake Shore Blvd. W.  Not to mention that added service on the 508 car (which is rush hour only) can also provide people with a "direct" connection downtown in the rush hours.

3)  With the 507 running up Roncesvalles, 504 King cars can be short turned at Sunnyside more easily if required to get them back downtown while still providing a reliable connection to the Bloor-Danforth line.


*Operated by Mississauga Transit

Wotan
wrote 7 years 40 weeks ago
Wotan's picture

#5

507 car

I have seen up to four streetcars - all in service - sitting in Long Branch Loop, with another two joining as the first two left.  That meant there were six streetcars west of Long Branch Ave all within a 10 minute period.  The 501 service is the pits for anyone living along the Lake Shore.

A restored 507 car would be totally beneficial to the Lake Shore communities.

rapidtransitman
wrote 7 years 43 weeks ago
 

#6

Some History of the Lakeshore Streetcar

The Long Branch streetcar operated additional service east of Humber Loop to Queen and Church (looping via Church, Richmond and Victoria) as recently as 1967.

Some more recent history courtesy of Stevemunro.ca:

http://stevemunro.ca/?p=592

The 507 Lives, Sort Of

I have written before about the need to reorganize the way service is operated on the Queen line, and the TTC never quite gets around to doing a detailed review.  I’m not sure what it will take to light a fire under them, but the time is long overdue for them to admit the through-routing of 501-Queen and 507-Long Branch was a disaster.

Other related issues include the problem of Humber Loop (not the most ideal location for a transfer given its isolated location) and the mix of services running downtown from Parkdale.

I received a comment from “Ed” recently that shows finally, someone has realized there are problems on Lake Shore, although the “fix” is a temporary one.

As you may know, a pseudo-507 service has returned to Lake Shore Blvd.

501 Queen is the only route I can think of where a single destination sign (501 HUMBER) can mean either an eastbound or a westbound car. I know that this experiment is recent (started Sept. 30th?) but so far, I don’t find it particularly helpful.  The following is an e-mail I posted to the Toronto-Traction mailing list.

The rails in the Long Branch Loop at the Humber are getting shiny again as streetcars are travelling through this turn-around frequently these days.  Apparently cars and drivers who would normally be working on St. Clair and have been displaced by constuction, are running on various lines as extras. Some of these cars are servicing Long Branch between Humber and Long Branch Loops as pseudo ‘507′ runs.

Let’s hope that the extra 507 runs (just Long Branch to Humber?) become permanent, as service out there has been too infrequent to maintain ridership, though perhaps those extras should be extended to Roncesvalles for connections to the King car?

I come from Brown’s Line and Lakeshore, and have ridden the line regularly since early 2006. The results of these extra cars so far are not encouraging.

Sunday afternoon I caught an eastbound “501 HUMBER” car and got to hang around at Humber Loop where my pseudo-507 joined one (or was it two?) compatriots in the old 507 turnaround. A westbound 501 HUMBER car finally pulled in and we boarded it.

I passed through Monday on a 501 NEVILLE PARK at about 2:30 PM and saw THREE cars laying over in the loop. This morning, I just missed a 501 NEVILLE PARK ALRV, followed less than a minute later by a 501 HUMBER car. After a considerable wait, another 501 HUMBER car showed up and delivered me to Humber Loop. I joined people already waiting for an eastbound car. Another eastbound 501 HUMBER shortly thereafter delivered yet more people (there were now about 30 waiting to travel east from Humber). Finally an eastbound 501 NEVILLE PARK CLRV showed up. This car was crush-loaded by Dufferin….

The problem with 501 service is poor line management and erratic headways. My observation is that the pseudo-507 branch of 501 has the same gaps followed by a pair or three cars running close together.

Instead of having a random wait for a 501 car that will take me downtown, now I have a random wait for a 501 car that may or may not take me downtown, with possibly another wait at Humber for a car that will actually take me downtown.

The one possible saving grace is that I can now catch westbound 501 HUMBER cars with some hope of a good connection further westbound at the loop. Although seeing packs of cars laying over, I’m not sure how well that will work either.

Oddly, the transfer I got this morning is a green “SPECIAL EVENT TRANSFER”. Why not use the same ol’ 501 QUEEN transfer?

I do think that Humber Loop, late at night, would nicely recreate the atmosphere of Casablanca–everyone standing around, hoping to get their special transfer to be able to escape to Long Branch.  (Can we remake “Casablanca” as “Humber Loop”?)

I am amazed that the TTC cannot even properly manage extras running on a route with zero traffic congestion.  Lake Shore used to have quite good local demand.  It was no King Street, but the Long Branch cars carried a respectable amount of traffic back and forth on the line.  Unfortunately, the way the TTC plans things, local traffic tends not to count because all of those ons-and-offs don’t build up a huge load in the same way a crowd of downtown-bound travelers would.  Service cuts over the years drove away riding, and improving north-south bus services made the BD subway more accessible for travel to the core.

With the redevelopments now in progress on Lake Shore, and the designation of this route as part of Transit City, it’s time for the TTC to look at making the service reliable and frequent.

Ed speaks of bunches of cars laying over.  On 501 Queen, this is caused by hugely padded running times that allow for possible traffic congestion and the need for a long break after driving for nearly 90 minutes across the city.  When they get that far, it is not unusual to see two 501 cars in Long Branch Loop even though the scheduled headway is 15 minutes or more.  There is no excuse for bunches of 507 extras which should be shuttling back and forth on a reliable, properly-spaced headway.  The extras are a nice idea, but can someone at the TTC please try to manage the service?

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