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501 Queen

ALRV #4250, Neville Park Loop-bound, at the intersection of Queen Street West and Dufferin Street
Type Streetcar Route
Locale Toronto, Ontario
Termini Neville Loop (East)
Long Branch Loop (West)
Stations Queen, Osgoode
Operator(s) Toronto Transit Commission
Depot(s) Russell, Roncesvalles [1]
Rolling stock CLRV, ALRV
Line length 24.43 km (15.18 mi) [1]
Track gauge 4 ft 10 7⁄8 (1,495 mm) - TTC Gauge
Electrification 600 VDC Overhead

The 501 Queen is an east-west streetcar route in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, operated by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). At 24.8 kilometres (15.4 miles), it is the TTC's longest surface route, the longest streetcar route operating in North America and one of the longest streetcar routes operating in the world. It stretches from Long Branch Loop (just west of Browns Line, adjacent to Long Branch GO Station) in the west to Neville Park Loop (just west of Victoria Park Avenue) in the east, running on Lake Shore Boulevard, in a reserved right-of-way at the median of The Queensway, and on Queen Street. The route was first instituted in the mid- to late-19th century by private operators as a horse-drawn line, was later electrified, and was assumed by the TTC upon its creation in 1921. Service is provided 24 hours a day, though the route number changes to 301 Queen late at night.

The 501 Queen is one of the routes regularly operated with the TTC's double-length ALRVs. It runs with a combined service of five minutes during rush hour, four to ten at other times, and 10 to 30 overnight from approx. 1:00 A.M. until 5:00 A.M. The route is split into two branches, one running from Neville Park to Humber Loop on the Queensway, and the other running all the way to Long Branch. Every other streetcar is scheduled to go to Long Branch. The route interchanges with the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line at Queen and Osgoode stations.


Former Route 507

Route 501 used to run only as far west as Humber Loop, which until 1973 was a fare zone boundary point.[2] Another route, 507 Long Branch, ran from Humber to Long Branch. The TTC decided in the 1990s to amalgamate the two routes and create today's continuous route.


Critics of the TTC's management of this line argue that small delays at one end ripple into 30-40 minute waits at the other. Like route 504, there is much demand at either end of the route, and along the downtown middle stretch. Transit proponents such as Steve Munro have long claimed that Route 501 would be better off if it were split into two or three overlapping segments.[3] A report presented to the Commission for its January 23, 2008, meeting cites steps taken to improve performance on the line, including consideration of splitting the route into multiple routes with overlap in the middle. A report is expected by summer 2008 with a trial implementation in the fall. At the Commission's May 2008 meeting, the TTC discussed measures implemented and future plans. Six supervisors are to be hired and placed along the route. As well, the TTC is actively considering plans that would split route 501 into two or three segments. Potential options include restoring and/or extending the 507 route, or overlapping segments through the downtown core.[4]


2009 trial route splitting

ALRV 4214, CLRV 4165, ARLV 4238 and ALRV 4247 rest at Long Branch Loop.

The TTC has started an experiment of splitting the 501 streetcar route into two overlapping segments, as recommended by the critics, to alleviate pressure when delays occur. Streetcars from Neville Park, Humber, or Long Branch Loop, after passing through the downtown core section in all cases, turn off Queen onto a parallel street and return to Queen to turn back to their starting point.

On the east portion of the route, streetcars from the Neville Park Loop run west on Queen as far as Shaw Street, then south to King, west again to Dufferin, and north to Queen to turn back east. On the west portion, streetcars will operate from the Long Branch Loop or Humber Loop east as far as to Parliament Street, then north to Dundas, east to Broadview, and south to Queen to turn back west.[5]

The trial routing is operating Mondays to Fridays only, from October 19 to November 20, 2009.

Sites along the line (from east to west)

Streetcar exiting Neville Park Loop at the eastern end of the line
Long Branch Loop in Etobicoke is the western terminus of the 501 Queen route
Queen Street West at James Street; 360 degree panoramic photo showing The Bay, Simpsons Tower, and a route 501 Queen TTC streetcar, and Old City Hall.

Short turn locations

Being the longest transit route in Toronto, 501 Queen is plagued by unreliable service and short turns. Every second car heading west is short turned at Humber Loop at the mouth of the Humber River. The most common locations for short turns outside of the schedule are Sunnyside loop just west of Roncesvalles Avenue beside the Roncesvalles Carhouse, and in the east, Woodbine Loop, just east of the junction of Queen Street, Eastern Avenue, and Kingston Road.

501 streetcars are less commonly short turned at, ordered from east to west:

Proof-of-payment fare system

In 1990, the commission introduced a Proof-of-Payment fare system for this route, to speed loading and improve service. Passengers who already have a valid pass or transfer may board at any door of the streetcar without showing their ticket, but are subject to random ticket inspections. Passengers who pay a fare to the driver must take a transfer to show if they are inspected.

The 501 Queen is the only streetcar route where this proof-of-payment system is feasible without a larger-scale redesign of the TTC's fare system, since it is the only one that never enters the fare-paid area of a subway station; even if people did manage to evade paying the streetcar fare, they would not be able to transfer to any other route without paying. The Commission ended the proof-of-payment system in 2000, but it was reinstated after groups such as Rocket Riders successfully appealed the decision in 2002.

Today the Proof-of-Payment system is in effect from 7am to 7pm. Outside of these hours, entry can be gained only through the front door of the streetcar.[6]

Former subway plans

The TTC's original subway plans in the 1940s and 1950s called for the north-south rapid transit line built under Yonge Street (the first section of today's Yonge-University-Spadina line) to be complemented by an east-west streetcar subway under Queen Street, allowing streetcars to avoid city-centre traffic, but come above ground and run on city streets in outlying areas. When the Government of Canada refused to help fund the project, the Queen line was dropped to save money, but a set of streetcar platforms were built under Queen station to allow for further expansion. By the time the TTC returned to the idea of an east-west line, however, traffic had moved north to Bloor Street, and the Bloor-Danforth line line was built there as a dedicated rapid-transit line like that under Yonge.

Proposed right-of-way

On April 2, 2007, the Toronto Transit Commission proposed that the 501 Queen streetcar route operate in a transit-only right-of-way similar to the proposal for the 504 King streetcar route announced on March 22, 2007. These plans have been all but shelved; the TTC is now focusing on King street for a transit mall because of objections from merchants on Queen St. whose business is more car-based than that of King.


External links


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