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TTC gives up attempt to divide Queen route

Year-long experiment led to more delays for streetcar riders

Published On Tue Jan 19 2010

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The split route attempted in the fall proved a failure, actually increasing delays and frustrations for riders.

TORONTO STAR GRAPHIC

Tess Kalinowski Transportation Reporter

When it comes to the much-maligned Queen streetcar route, what you see now is about as good as the service is likely to get, according to the TTC.

Service has improved somewhat, after more than a year and about $2 million spent on experimenting with various scheduling and route adjustments. But TTC staff are recommending against splitting the 24-kilometre Queen 501 streetcar route into two lines.

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.

Short turns - which mean customers have to get off one car and wait for the next - went up 223 per cent during the afternoon rush during the experiment, and the TTC received complaints.

TTC staff are recommending sticking with a new route-management system already in place along Queen. The program, called Step Forward, allows a route supervisor to put another driver in the seat when an operator is due for a break or at the end of a shift. Before, operators were tied to a particular streetcar, so if they went off duty, so did their vehicle, ditching riders in the middle of the route.

Step Forward cut afternoon short turns to 9.7 per cent, down from 32.5 per cent in late 2007. Morning short turns were reduced to 4.1 per cent, down from 13.9 per cent.

The program has also been the most successful idea attempted for reducing service gaps.

Between the Humber Loop and Neville, the Queen car is supposed to run every six minutes. At the west end of the route, between Humber and Long Branch, it runs every 12 minutes, according to John Chamberlain, the TTC superintendent responsible for the Queen project.

There is a cost to Step Forward, however, because the TTC has to assign an extra eight operators and two additional supervisors.

The Step Forward system is usually limited to weekdays, but the TTC will implement it this weekend because of a large diversion caused by road construction and water main work near Dufferin St.




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