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TTC aims to get Queen car on track

Jan 22, 2008 04:30 AM
Tess Kalinowski
Staff reporter

Changes are coming down the track for the perennially troubled Queen streetcar.

The longest route in the city could be split into two or more lines as the TTC tinkers with schedules, staff and service to improve the Queen car’s poor performance.

A report before the transit commission this week recommends the TTC experiment with putting more crews and cars on Queen to reduce the crowding and delays many patrons say is the reason behind a long-running decline in ridership.

The 501 streetcar, recently named one of the top 10 tram routes in the world by National Geographic, lost about 20,000 daily riders between 1981 and 2006.

But now an increase in TTC staffing means the transit company can experiment with special assistance crews to relieve operators ending their shifts so more cars may be able to finish the route rather than being short-turned before the end, according to the report.

It also says that short-turn practices, used to keep streetcars on schedule, will be replaced with guidelines based on when and where service is most needed.

The TTC will also try employing gap cars on nearby loops that could be pressed into service when the Queen cars are delayed, said TTC chair Adam Giambrone.

Two or more shorter routes breaking up the Queen line could be tested by the end of the year. With a route that’s 24 kilometres each way, delays at one end frequently ripple all the way from the Mississauga border to Scarborough.

Giambrone doesn’t know where the route might break, but suggested the Humber loop as one possibility. Until 1995, there was a separate 507 Long Branch route that ran to that loop, but it was eliminated in favour of a single line so thousands of riders wouldn’t have to transfer each day.

The report comes in the wake of rising complaints from riders and the business community about the Queen service.

The real solution, according to the report, would be a dedicated streetcar right of way along Queen.

“We’re not losing sight of that vision,” said Giambrone.




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