ttc 501 queen streetcar

A busy Toronto streetcar line will be out of service for almost two years

Commuters who rely on the TTC's busy 501 Queen streetcar route are in for a long wait for the streetcar this May.

In fact, anyone looking to board the 501 this coming spring may have to wait a full 20 months for their ride to arrive, as the TTC quietly announced that service will be replaced by shuttle buses for close to two years due to unforeseen utility work.

Transit users already had about seven years of service interruptions to look forward to, thanks to construction on the upcoming Ontario Line, and the TTC has been preparing for route diversions with the addition of new streetcar tracks on Adelaide Street from Charlotte Street to York Street, which were substantially completed in 2022.

Further track routes are still being planned for the Ontario Line diversions, but a Transit Network Expansion Update released by the TTC this week reveals that even more interruptions are coming, ones that were not part of the already-disruptive plan to move passengers around Ontario Line-related road closures.

Further complicating route diversion plans, and commuters' lives, the TTC states that "the amount and complexity of utility conflicts and relocations that have been identified through site surveys has surpassed previous expectations and has delayed the start of the construction of the streetcar tracks for the diversion."

In layman's terms, these issues — utility work around Adelaide and York Streets — were not identified earlier in the process, and the result is even more headaches for streetcar passengers.

The report states that "the TTC, Metrolinx, City of Toronto and various utility owners are working very closely to resolve all of the utility conflicts and relocations as expediently as possible."

"Metrolinx has identified that the potential delay to complete the streetcar detour work will result in approximately 20 months of shuttle bus service commencing in early May 2023."

So for seven calendar seasons, rain, snow, and shine, riders will be forced to suffer the indignity of shuttle buses.

There is hope that the timeline could actually be shorter than anticipated, as the TTC states it is working closely with all parties "on exploring options to optimize the construction schedule of the Adelaide civil and streetcar track construction work to reduce the duration of shuttle bus service."

Once all of the necessary work is complete, and streetcar service is restored, Ontario line diversions will route passengers around the future Queen station site to allow heavy construction to proceed unhindered.

During the diversion, streetcars will travel westbound via Church, Richmond, and York to Queen; and eastbound via York, Adelaide, and Church to Queen on the newly restored streetcar tracks.

Lead photo by

Jack Landau

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