501 Queen Streetcar split

The 501 Queen Streetcar Splits in Two

Starting this morning, the TTC has split the 501 streetcar route, one of its longest routes and the one featured in a National Geographic "Top 10" of the most scenic streetcars rides in the world.

The existing 501 ride which currently moves about 43,500 people a day will be split in half as part of a test run in order to try to address long-standing concerns regarding the quality and timeliness of service along Queen.

Until November 20th, streetcars traveling westbound will turn back at Shaw, and vehicles moving Eastbound will loop back around Parliament. The overlapping section between these two intersections runs a total of 4 km, and stretches across the majority of the downtown core. On weekends, the 501 will operate as it usually does - in one piece.

Until push comes to shove, it will be hard to say whether splitting the route will actually work. For those crossing the city (say, from Parkdale to the Beaches), they will now face a longer commute, necessitated by a transfer somewhere during the overlapping area. One rider told me he wasn't looking forward to "transferring instead of sitting in the streetcar for the entire ride."

His work and home are near opposite ends of Queen, so this split is likely to affect him adversely. For the majority of commuters, however, the TTC must be betting this change will be of benefit.

Personally, I'm glad to see that the Red Rocket is trying to alleviate commuter headaches but this approach is far from shaping up to be a slam dunk solution. According to the TTC, this plan was arrived at after two years of testing strategies aimed at improving reliability, short turns and overall travel time.

Results from this trial split will be announced sometime in January.

Riding on the 501 today or tomorrow? Please let us know how it goes!


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