Westbound 501 Queen streetcar at Queen and University
|Termini||Neville Park Loop (east)|
Long Branch Loop (west)
|Daily ridership||52,200 (2014, weekdays)|
|Operator(s)||Toronto Transit Commission|
|Depot(s)||Leslie Barns, Russell Carhouse, Roncesvalles Carhouse|
|Rolling stock||CLRV, Flexity Outlook|
|Line length||24.43 km (15.18 mi)|
|Track gauge||4 ft 10 7⁄8 in (1,495 mm) Toronto gauge|
|Electrification||600 V DC overhead|
The 501 Queen is an east–west streetcar route in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, operated by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). At 24.8 kilometres (15.4 mi), it is one of the longest surface routes operated by the TTC, the longest streetcar route operating in Canada and one of the longest streetcar routes operating in the world. It stretches from Long Branch Loop (just west of Browns Line, adjacent to Long Branch GO Station) in the west to Neville Park Loop (just west of Victoria Park Avenue) in the east, running on Lake Shore Boulevard, in a reserved right-of-way at the median of The Queensway, and on Queen Street.
Service is provided 24 hours a day, though overnight service between 1 am and 5 am is operated as one of three streetcar routes on the TTC's Blue Night Network under the route number 301 Queen.
In 1875, the Kingston Road Tramway operated a horsecar service along what would become today's Queen Street East. This line was abandoned in the mid 1880s, at about which time the Toronto Street Railway extended its King horsecar line onto Queen Street East to Lee Avenue in The Beaches district. In 1893, the Toronto Railway Company electrified the line. In 1921, the TTC took over streetcar service.
From 1923 to 1928, the Beach streetcar line ran along Queen Street from Neville Park Boulevard to the Humber River similar to today's 501 Queen. At about this time, there was also a route named "Queen", but it ran along Kingston Road to McCaul and Queen streets much like today's 502 Downtowner.
From 1928 to 1937, service to the eastern and western ends of Queen Street was handled by separate routes. Thus, one would need to transfer streetcars in the downtown area to travel the full length of Queen Street.
On August 2, 1937, a new Queen route serviced all of Queen Street between Neville Park Loop and Parkside Loop. (The Parkside Loop was located at the northeast corner of Lakeshore Boulevard and Parkside Drive, south of the rail corridor, which was crossed by a bridge.) East of Roncesvalles Avenue, the Queen route resembled today's 501 Queen.
By 1954, when the Yonge subway (today part of Line 1 Yonge–University) opened, an underground streetcar station was partially built at Queen station to eventually allow streetcars to cross under the subway tracks. The plan was to put the Queen streetcar line in a tunnel under Queen Street between Logan Avenue and Trinity Park. However, because of changing ridership patterns, the plan was dropped in favour of east-west subway line along Bloor Street and Danforth Avenue (today's Line 2 Bloor–Danforth). Today, Lower Queen remains a ghost station.
In 1957, to accommodate construction of the Gardiner Expressway, the streetcar tracks were removed from Lake Shore Boulevard between Roncesvalles Avenue and the Humber River, and the bridge crossing the rail corridor was demolished. As a replacement, a new private right-of-way was built along the Queensway from the Sunnyside Loop to the Humber Loop. At the Humber Loop, passengers could transfer to the Long Branch streetcar which shuttled between the Humber and Long Branch loops.
Between 1967 and early 1977, two-car multiple-unit PCC trains served the Queen streetcar route.
In 2013, the TTC considered setting up a transit mall on the downtown portion of either Queen or King Street. TTC CEO Andy Byford wanted a car-free corridor along one of the city's two busiest streetcar lines (either 501 Queen or 504 King) to prevent bunching, gaps and service delays. Byford would ban general automobile traffic along the streetcar corridor but allow cyclists, taxicabs and delivery trucks. Byford preferred King Street for the transit mall because of recent condominium development along that street. There were similar proposals for a transit mall in 2001 and 2007. Ultimately, a King Street transit mall pilot project was established in late 2017.
In January 2017, construction began for approximately 15 months on various projects west of Roncesvalles Avenue, including rebuilding the bridge over the Humber River carrying streetcar tracks. Other work included replacing track and overhead along portions of The Queensway and Lake Shore Boulevard as well as at the Humber Loop. Also at the Humber Loop, a new substation was built, platforms were made accessible to accommodate Flexity streetcars and a siding on the west-to-east loop was modified. In April 2018, streetcar operations resumed between Sunnyside Loop and Humber Loop. Streetcar service between Humber Loop and Long Branch Loop resumed in June 2018.
From May to September 2017, all streetcar service over the entire 501 Queen route was replaced by buses to permit multiple construction projects along Queen Street, including the replacement of an overhead pedestrian walkway at the Eaton Centre, which required overhead wires to be removed. According to TTC spokesperson, it would take 65 buses to replace the 50 streetcars then operating east of the Sunnyside Loop.
Starting September 2, 2018, Flexity Outlook streetcars were introduced on the 501 Queen route, but only for weekend service.
By January 6, 2019, the route was being served by Flexity Outlook streetcars seven days per week. The TTC had to address rush hour crowding due to the accelerated retirement of the ALRV fleet.
By June 23, 2019, the main portion of the route (along Queen Street and The Queensway between Humber Loop and Neville Park Loop) was being served mostly by accessible Flexity Outlook streetcars; however, the southwest portion of the route along Lakeshore Boulevard between Long Branch Loop and Humber continued to operate mostly with legacy CLRV streetcars. The southwest portion of the route is expected to be served exclusively by Flexity Outlook streetcars when more of them arrive later in 2019.
507 Long Branch
Until September 27, 1928, service along Lake Shore Boulevard west of Humber Loop was provided by the single-track Mimico radial line which continued west to Port Credit. Starting from that date, the TTC replaced the radial track to Long Branch with a double-track streetcar line. On December 8, 1928, the Lake Shore streetcar service (not the same as the later 508 Lake Shore) began operation from downtown Toronto to Long Branch Loop where, until 1937, passengers could transfer to the shortened Port Credit radial line. An extra fare was required to travel from west of Humber Loop to downtown.
On October 28, 1935, the Lake Shore streetcar route was split, and the new Long Branch route was created to run between Long Branch Loop and Roncesvalles Carhouse. In 1958, when a new reserved streetcar right-of-way was opened on the Queensway, the Long Branch route (later called 507 Long Branch) was cut back operating mainly west of Humber Loop.
On January 1, 1973, passengers could transfer between the Long Branch and Queen streetcars at Humber Loop without paying an extra fare.
On September 30, 1979, Long Branch (by now 507 Long Branch) became the first route to employ the then-new CLRV in revenue service. On January 19, 1988, 507 Long Branch was also the first route to employ the ALRV in revenue service.
On March 26, 1995, the TTC merged the 507 Long Branch route into 501 Queen, making one continuous route from Neville Park Loop in the east to Long Branch Loop.
By 2007, critics of the TTC's management of this line argue that small delays at one end ripple into 30-40 minute waits at the other. Like route 504, there is much demand at either end of the route, and along the downtown middle stretch. Transit proponents such as Steve Munro have long claimed that Route 501 would be better off if it were split into two or three overlapping segments.
In late 2009, the TTC conducted an experiment of splitting the 501 streetcar route into two overlapping segments, as recommended by critics to alleviate bunching, gaps and short turns when delays occurred. During the experiment streetcars from the Neville Park Loop ran west on Queen Street as far as Shaw Street, and from Long Branch Loop or Humber Loop east as far as Parliament Street.
In January 2010, the commission received a report analyzing several of the experiments done in 2009 to increase service reliability. It was determined that splitting the route increased short turns by 90%, required more streetcars and resulted in poorer service. The TTC decided to use a route-management system called Step Forward, whereby when an operator goes off duty (break or end of shift), another operator takes over the streetcar instead of the streetcar going out of service along with off-duty operator. According to the TTC, Step Forward reduced short turns in late 2007, from 32.5% to 9.7% in the PM rush hours, and from 13.9% to 4.1% in the AM rush. It also was successful in reducing service gaps according to the TTC. Implementing Step Forward required eight extra operators and two extra supervisors.
By 2015, the 501 streetcar would still occasionally short turn at Kingston Road or Roncesvalles Avenue. This was a source of annoyance for riders.
On January 3, 2016, the route was split into two sections at Humber Loop. As of June 23, 2019, the section west of Humber towards Long Branch Loop operates mainly with CLRVs, while the section east of Humber towards Neville Park Loop uses mostly Flexity Outlook vehicles. The split is in effect only from 5 am to 10 pm. During the split, service over the entire route operates at intervals of ten minutes or better. The change was also made to provide more frequent service on each segment and to eliminate all but emergency short turns (such as for an accident) on the segment east of Humber Loop. Some riders reported shorter streetcar wait times after the split.
From Neville Park Loop, the route proceeds westward in mixed traffic on Queen Street East. At Kingston Road, passengers can transfer to the 502 Downtowner and 503 Kingston Rd streetcars. Further west, Broadview Avenue provides a transfer point to the 504 King streetcars to go along King Street. At Yonge Street, the route passes Queen station on subway Line 1 Yonge–University.
After crossing Yonge Street, the route continues on Queen Street West. At University Avenue, the route passes Osgoode station again on Line 1 Yonge–University. At Spadina Avenue, riders can transfer to 510 Spadina streetcars, and at Bathurst Street, to 511 Bathurst streetcars. The route continues to the western end of Queen Street West at the intersection of King Street West and Roncesvalles Avenue where riders can again transfer to 504 King streetcars.
Beyond Roncesvalles Avenue, Queen Street West flows onto The Queensway, where 501 Queen streetcars run in their own right-of-way until reaching the off-street Humber Loop. Leaving Humber Loop, the line passes through a short streetcar tunnel under a railway corridor and the Gardiner Expressway. The line emerges from the tunnel onto Lake Shore Boulevard West and proceeds westward in mixed traffic to Long Branch Loop where the route terminates.
Sites along the line (from east to west)
- The Beaches
- Moss Park and Moss Park Armoury
- Toronto Eaton Centre
- Old City Hall
- Toronto City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square
- Osgoode Hall
- Four Seasons Centre
- 299 Queen Street West (Home to MuchMusic, CP24, Bell Media)
- Trinity Bellwoods Park
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
- Drake Hotel
- Gladstone Hotel
- High Park
- Humber Bay Park
- Colonel Samuel Smith Park
- Humber College, Lakeshore Campus
Route 501 Queen was once served mainly by Articulated Light Rail Vehicles (ALRVs), supplemented with some of the shorter Canadian Light Rail Vehicles (CLRVs). However, by 2018, the TTC was using a mix of CLRVs and ALRVs on the route with the ALRV no longer being as prominently used. This was due to the declining reliability of the ALRV fleet and the reassignment of some ARLVs to 504 King to address rising demand there.
Since June 24, 2018[update], 501 Queen service has operated in two sections with a split at Humber Loop at most times of the day. Westbound 501 streetcars from Neville Park and eastbound from Long Branch turn back at that loop, requiring customers to transfer between the two sections. However, the TTC provides transfer-free service through Humber Loop for all trips in the late evening and overnight. The TTC also used to provide five transfer-free trips during the morning peak period; however, effective September 2, 2018, the TTC temporarily suspended these five runs due to a shortage of streetcars.
Since June 23, 2019, the main portion of the 501 Queen route, between Humber Loop and Neville Park, has been served mainly by accessible Flexity Outlook streetcars, as most of the CLRVs were reassigned to the 511 Bathurst route. However, CLRVs will continue to serve the south Etobicoke portion of the route between Humber and Long Branch Loop until more Flexity Outlook streetcars are added to the TTC fleet later in 2019.
- "Ridership statistics for surface routes, as of April 2014" (PDF). Toronto Transit Commission. April 2014. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
- "TTC Service Summary" (PDF). Toronto Transit Commission. February 18, 2018.
- "TTC Service Summary" (PDF). Toronto Transit Commission. September 18, 2009.
Farquharson, Vanessa (March 24, 2012). "Riding the 501: The longest streetcar route in North America". National Post. Archived from the original on February 24, 2013.
With nearly 25 kilometres of track, the 501 Queen is the longest streetcar route operating in North America.
- Hume, Christopher (December 29, 2007). "It's not too good if you're in a hurry, but the 501 does give a wonderful look at city's many faces". Toronto Star. p. A.3. Archived from the original on March 17, 2016. Retrieved February 24, 2013.
Torontonians who ride it daily might not be impressed, but National Geographic has named the Queen streetcar, the 501, one of the top 10 trolley routes in the world. The honour is included in a new book, Journeys of a Lifetime 500 of the World's Greatest Trips.
- Bow, James (September 6, 2017). "Route 501 - The Queen Streetcar". Transit Toronto. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
- "System Map - 1930". Toronto Transportation Commission. 1930. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
- Forman, Roman (1945). "Streetcar System Map 1945" (PDF). Transit Toronto. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
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- Kitching, Chris (June 20, 2013). "TTC head floats streetcar corridor on King or Queen". CablePulse 24. Retrieved January 31, 2018.
- Wilson, Codi (March 1, 2017). "Buses to replace streetcars on Queen Street this summer". CablePulse 24. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
- "TTC Service Changes Effective Sunday, January 8, 2017 (Updated)". Steve Munro: Transit & Politics. December 11, 2016.
- Munro, Steve (January 28, 2018). "Reconstruction of The Queensway and Humber Loop". Steve Munro. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
- "TTC 501 Queen route converts to buses west of Roncesvalles for 2017". Toronto Transit Commission. December 16, 2016. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
- "501 Queen - Streetcar restrictions during several construction projects - February 18 update". Toronto Transit Commission. February 18, 2018. Archived from the original on February 2, 2018. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
- "TTC service improvements and changes". Toronto Transit Commission. Archived from the original on April 11, 2018. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
- "TTC service improvements and changes". Toronto Transit Commission. June 24, 2018. Archived from the original on June 25, 2018. Retrieved June 24, 2018.
- Bow, James [@TransitToronto] (September 2, 2018). "Sunday, September 2, 2018, was the first day for regularly scheduled #TTC #Bombardier #Flexity service on 501 QUEEN, albeit just on weekends only. Here we see Flexity LRV 4455 heading westbound on Queen approaching Church Street. Photo by @jamesbow. bit.ly/2pk9GbJ" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "TTC service improvements and changes". Toronto Transit Commission. January 6, 2018. Archived from the original on December 31, 2018. Retrieved December 31, 2018.
- "Accessible streetcar service updates". TTC. July 2, 2019. Archived from the original on July 2, 2019.
- Bow, James (September 6, 2017). "Route 507 - The Long Branch Streetcar (Deceased)". Transit Toronto. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
- Bow, James (July 1, 2017). "A History Of Fares On The TTC". Transit Toronto. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
On January 1, 1973, the two zone fare system within Metropolitan Toronto was abolished…
- Thompson, John (January 5, 2018). "The car that saved Toronto's streetcars". Railway Age. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
- Bow, James (January 30, 2017). "The Articulated Light Rail Vehicles (The ALRVs)". Transit Toronto. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
- Kuitenbrouwer, Peter (November 24, 2007). "Crown jewel badly tarnished". National Post. Toronto. Retrieved January 21, 2008.[dead link]
"TTC temporarily splits 501 streetcar route". CBC News. October 19, 2009. Archived from the original on February 24, 2013.
Toronto transit advocate Steve Munro said that people who are travelling downtown from the outer ends of the city will still be able to make the trip in one ride.
Vela, Thandiwe (October 15, 2009). "TTC to split Queen streetcar route". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on February 24, 2013.
On weekdays between Oct. 19 and Nov. 20, the west portion of the route will run from Long Branch to Parliament St. while the east portion will run from Neville Park to Shaw St., the TTC announced in a statement. Saturday, Sunday and holiday service will not be changed.
- "October 2009 - Service changes effective October 18, 2009". TTC. October 2009. Archived from the original on October 19, 2009. Retrieved September 22, 2009.
- "501 Queen Streetcar Route: Final Recommendations" (PDF). TTC. January 20, 2010. Retrieved July 29, 2012.
Kalinowski, Tess (January 19, 2010). "TTC gives up attempt to divide Queen route". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on February 24, 2013.
A report before the city councillors on the Toronto Transit Commission on Wednesday shows that splitting the route in half actually increased the number of short turns by 90 per cent overall during a five-week experiment last October and November.
- Stevenson, Verity (January 3, 2016). "Queen streetcar riders get what they've waited for: more service". Toronto Star. Retrieved January 3, 2016.
- Munro, Steve (January 3, 2016). "501 Queen Service Design Effective January 3, 2016". Retrieved January 3, 2016.
- "501 Queen - Service increase". Toronto Transit Commission. January 3, 2016. Archived from the original on January 10, 2016. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
The route will be temporarily split into two separate sections, operating between Long Branch Loop and Humber Loop, and between Neville Park Loop and Humber Loop.
- "501 Queem Map". Toronto Transit Commission. Retrieved January 29, 2018.
- "Service Summary - March 26, 2017 to May 6, 2017" (PDF). Toronto Transit Commission. March 26, 2017. Retrieved April 26, 2018.
- Munro, Steve (April 17, 2018). "Service Capacity on 501 Queen". Steve Munro. Retrieved April 26, 2018.
For many years, the capacity alleged was based on the longer ALRV (articulated) streetcars, but the service was actually operated by a mix of the shorter CLRVs and ALRVs. This was due to two factors: the declining reliability of the ALRV fleet, and the desire to increase capacity on 504 King.
- "TTC service improvements and changes". Toronto Transit Commission. September 2, 2018. Archived from the original on August 30, 2018. Retrieved September 2, 2018.
- "TTC service improvements and changes". TTC. Archived from the original on June 22, 2019. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
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