Thursday, October 27, 2016Light Rain 5°C

10 signs you commute on the 501 streetcar in Toronto

Posted by Alice Prendergast / February 15, 2016

501 queen streetcarThe 501 streetcar is a staple for travelling around Toronto. Whether you love it or hate it, you've most likely been on it more times than you can count. Riding this particular rocket has its quirks that every seasoned commuter knows and, for the most part, loathes. If you've been short turned or detoured one too many times, this list is for you.

Here are a few signs you ride the 501.

1. You ride in constant fear of short turns. Short turns are a nightmare for commuters on any route, but the 501 definitely experiences the most in Toronto.

2. You've been suspicious that a driver was "soaking" another car. This odd transit terms refers to the practice of intentionally following another streetcar closely enough that the leading car gets flushed with passengers and the trailing car gets an easy ride. If you're stuck on the first car when this happens, you're screwed.

3. You've been fare inspected multiple times in one week (or day). All-door boarding is great. Fiddling for your wallet to produce your Metropass sucks.

4. You cringe when you see a CLRV car approaching because you know it's going to be jam-packed. The 501 has the most ALRVs in service, which makes the standard-length cars seem miniature somehow.

5. There is nothing quite so glorious as when the car hits the ROW lane past Roncesvalles. This is what light rail transit is supposed to be like -- fast and predictable.

6. You grimace when local history buffs remind you that a subway line was almost built on Queen. Back in 1942 the TTC almost made the current day 501 route obsolete by building a streetcar subway. Come on!

7. You're used to riding the streetcar on Dundas. But, wait isn't the 501 Queen? Two words: construction detour.

8. You breathe a sigh of relief when you get to Yonge Street. If you get on in the east end, especially during rush hour, chances are you'll be packed so tightly into the car that you can hear every word of your neighbours audiobook. Once the car hits Yonge though, you can breathe a sigh of relief as people exit en masse.

9. The phrase "please move to the back of the car" haunts you in your sleep. Most spatially aware individuals know when they can no longer move back, but a rare few will throw some elbows in an attempt to satisfy the driver. ALRV cars make this all the worse.

10. You fear the coldest days of the year in a way that subway commuters will never understand. Sure, subways get delayed, but that's nothing like half of the fleet being felled by the cold. It's 2016. Cold weather shouldn't kill streetcars.

What did I miss? Add your 501 experiences in the comments.

Photo by Howard Yang.

Other Cities: Montreal