TTC temporarily splits 501 streetcar route

The TTC is breaking the 501 streetcar route into two sections as part of a five-week trial designed to improve service on the route.

Toronto's 501 Queen Street streetcar line will be broken in two sections starting Monday as part of a five-week trial designed to improve service on one of the city's busiest transit lines.

During the trial, streetcars in Toronto's west end will begin at the Long Branch and Humber loops and head east to Parliament Street. From the city's east end, the streetcar will run from Neville Park to Shaw Street.

The two routes will overlap through the city's downtown area.

Toronto transit advocate Steve Munro said that people who are travelling downtown from the outer ends of the city will still be able to make the trip in one ride.

"Basically, it's a split with an overlap," Munro said about the trial program. "Now that they're finally actually breaking it into pieces, my main concern is that the way they've broken it might not be the best way to do it."

The TTC said it decided to temporarily divide the busy line to see if the split would allow the route to operate more reliably, with less bunching of streetcars.  Streetcars will travel along the new route between Monday and Friday until Nov. 20.

Passengers adjust to new route

Some TTC passengers were frustrated with the new route.

"I'm standing out here in the cold waiting for a streetcar when I could be on a streetcar going to work," said Barb Smith.

Dave Taylor didn't even know the route had changed.

"I don't really know what the hell is going on to tell you the truth," he said. "Every now and then you get on and it drops you off somewhere you don't expect."

When the trial is over, the streetcars will go back to the existing route until January, when the TTC will evaluate results from the split route.

In 2007, National Geographic magazine said the 24.8-kilometre Queen Street route was one of the Top 10 streetcar routes in the world.