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Improving Service on King and Queen -- Can it be Done?

Steve Munro thinks it can, and he’s put together a detailed proposal showing how.

The King and Queen streetcars have been among the more problematic routes on the TTC network. Operating through the downtown core and through the revitalizing inner suburbs, they’re among the most heavily used routes on the city-wide network (King especially). The King streetcar is operating at capacity with a scheduled peak service of two-minute intervals, and the TTC claims that adding more capacity isn’t possible. The Queen car is suffering from lengthy delays that the TTC claims is caused by traffic congestion, and again the remedies are said to be limited.

But activists like Steve Munro have noted that the operating characteristics of Queen and King are hampering both routes performance. If King is a more heavily travelled route than Queen, why is Queen operated almost exclusively with articulated streetcars? The length of the Queen route, and the lengthier headways between vehicles serve only to increase delays and make short turns especially frustrating for commuters.

The solution, Steve Munro suggests, is to swap vehicles between routes. Operate King exclusively using ALRVs, and return the CLRVs to Queen. More importantly, ALRVs should replace CLRVs on King at a 1 to 1 ratio, so that frequencies don’t change, but the number of seats available to passengers increase. Service on Queen would remain the same, although with shorter vehicles, the rush hour headways would decrease from 5 minutes to close to 3. And if the TTC could find the money to pay for additional drivers, more CLRVs could be added, increasing service still further.

It’s not rocket science: improving service on King and Queen requires more vehicles so that passengers don’t have to wait as long for a vehicle to arrive and have a better chance of finding an empty seat when they do. Where additional vehicles cannot be added, lengthier vehicles should be used instead. This is the principle behind the TTC’s Ridership Growth Strategy. Spare ALRVs and CLRVs are available. All that remains is the money and the political will.

Contact your local councillor if you want to help them find the will.

More at Steve Munro’s blog.