|Termini||Union Station (East)
Exhibition Loop (West)
|Operator(s)||Toronto Transit Commission|
|Rolling stock||CLRV, PCC - 1 car Summer Service only|
|Line length||4.65 km (2.89 mi) |
|Track gauge||4 ft 10 7⁄8 in (1,495 mm) - TTC Gauge|
|Electrification||600 VDC Overhead|
The Harbourfront LRT, originally designated 604 Harbourfront, began service in 1990. It was the first new Toronto streetcar route in many years, and the first ever to employ a dedicated tunnel, approximately 600 metres long. This starts with an underground loop at Union Station, runs south along Bay Street to the underground Queens Quay station, then turns west and emerges onto Queens Quay. The line's original terminus was Queens Quay and Spadina Loop, at the foot of Spadina Avenue; beyond this point non-revenue trackage ran north on Spadina to King, as otherwise the new line would have been disconnected from the rest of the network.
Numbers in the 600-series were used at that time within the TTC for rapid transit routes (i.e., subways and the Scarborough RT) rather than low numbers as is the case today, and the Harbourfront LRT was given a number in this series to indicate that it was different from other streetcar routes; it was also shown like a subway line on the TTC map. Since the route is not grade-separated, this was later felt to be misleading and it was treated like other streetcar lines, taking the number 510.
In 1997, the completion of a dedicated right of way on Spadina Avenue resulted in the Harbourfront route being relaunched as the 510 Spadina. The "Harbourfront" route name disappeared until 2000, when the Queens Quay streetcar tracks were extended west to Bathurst and Fleet Streets. The Harbourfront was then reinstated with the new number 509, and extended to Exhibition Loop at Exhibition Place, sharing its route with the 510 from Union to Spadina and with the 511 Bathurst from Bathurst onwards. The Fleet Street portion of Route 509 has since been converted to a parallel private right-of-way, so that the entire route operates entirely separate from road traffic.
A proposed Waterfront West project would have extended the Harbourfront line farther west to join the existing right-of-way along the Queensway, however this project was shelved by the city in 2013. 
In July 2012 Waterfront Toronto began a major reconstruction of Queen's Quay West, requiring the 509 streetcar to be replaced with buses for the duration of the construction.  Streetcar service is expected to resume at the end of August 2014. 
Despite its political image as a ‘modern, rapid transit’ streetcar line, the 604 Harbourfront route was originally operated using rebuilt PCC streetcars, which were referred to as "Red Rockets" in a branding effort. These were soon replaced by Toronto's CLRV streetcars, which form the majority of the city's current fleet. There are calls for the TTC to operate ALRV (articulated, or double-length) streetcars on the line, but that is seen as being highly unlikely due to a shortage of such vehicles, as well as technical issues involving the tunnel along Bay Street in the event of a streetcar becoming disabled (space limitations inside the tunnel restrict the brakes from being manually released, and the grade exiting the tunnel makes moving a disabled ALRV very difficult, especially in poor weather conditions).
Because of the amount of shared track, the Toronto Transit Commission has grouped the 509 Harbourfront and 510 Spadina routes together for accounting and measurement purposes.
Most stops along the 509 route are surface stops with islands separating the regular traffic from the streetcar tracks. Streetcars begin underground at Union Station and pass through a dedicated underground streetcar station at Queens Quay before climbing to the surface.
Points of interest
|Harbourfront Centre & Islands ferry docks||Queens Quay Station|
|Queen's Quay Terminal||Queens Quay Station, York Street|
|CN Tower||Lower Simcoe Street|
|Rogers Centre & Toronto Waterfront WaveDecks||Simcoe Street – Spadina Avenue|
|HTO Park||Rees Street|
|Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport||Bathurst Street & Queens Quay|
|Old Fort York||Bathurst & Fleet Streets, Fort York Boulevard|
|Fort York Armoury||Fort York Boulevard|
|Exhibition Place & Canadian National Exhibition||Strachan Avenue, Exhibition Loop|
|Ricoh Coliseum & Exhibition GO Station||Exhibition Loop|
- "Residents share wishlist for Toronto budget". InsideToronto.com. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
- "Buses to replace TTC’s 509 Harbourfront streetcar during Queens Quay revitalization". TTC. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
- "Queens Quay Revitalization Project". TTC. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
- "509 Harbourfront: Route Description". Toronto Transit Commission. Retrieved 2009-10-06.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to 509 Harbourfront.|
- Route 509 - Harbourfront Streetcar (Transit Toronto)