509 Harbourfront

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509 Harbourfront
Streetcar 4407 Queens Quay West at Harbourfront Centre.JPG
Flexity 4407 on Queens Quay in June 2015
LocaleToronto, Ontario
TerminiUnion station (east)
Exhibition Loop (west)
StationsTTC - Line 1 - Yonge-University-Spadina line.svg Union
Queens Quay
Exhibition Loop
TypeStreetcar route
SystemToronto streetcar system
Route number509
Operator(s)Toronto Transit Commission
Depot(s)Leslie Barns[1]
Rolling stockFlexity Outlook
Daily ridership11,572 (2014)[2]
Opened22 June 1990
Line length4.40 km (2.73 mi)[1]
Number of tracksDouble track
Track gauge4 ft 10+78 in (1,495 mm)
Electrification600 V DC overhead
Route map

Union Station
GO Transit logo.svg VIA Rail Canada simplified.svg
TTC - Line 1 - Yonge-University-Spadina line.svg
Queens Quay station Toronto Island ferries BSicon BUS1.svg  6 
Harbourfront Centre
Rees Street
Lower Spadina Avenue
BSicon CLRV.svg  510 
Dan Leckie Way
Queen's Quay
Bathurst Street
Bathurst & Queen's Quay
Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport
Bathurst & Fleet
BSicon CLRV.svg  511 
Bathurst Street
Fleet Street
Bastion Road
Fort York Boulevard
Strachan Avenue
Fleet Street
Private Right-of-Way
Exhibition Loop   BSicon CLRV.svg  511  BSicon BUS1.svg  29  GO Transit logo.svg Lakeshore West logo.png

509 Harbourfront is a Toronto streetcar route in Ontario, Canada, operated by the Toronto Transit Commission and connecting Union Station with Exhibition Loop.



The 509 Harbourfront began service in 1990 as the "604 Harbourfront" and was referred to as the "Harbourfront LRT". It was the first new Toronto streetcar route in many years, and the first to employ a dedicated tunnel, approximately 600 metres (2,000 ft) long. The route 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 track ran north on Spadina to King, to connect the new line with 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 single-digit numbers as is the case today, and the Harbourfront LRT was given the number 604 to indicate that it was different from other streetcar routes. The 1990 TTC Ride Guide indicated the route with its own colour like a subway line rather than as a streetcar route.[3] 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. Between September 2007 and March 2008, 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.[4][5]


CLRV 4129 on the former right-of-way in the median of Queens Quay in 2012

In July 2012 Waterfront Toronto began a major reconstruction of Queens Quay West, requiring the 509 streetcar to be replaced with buses for the duration of the construction.[6] On 12 October 2014, streetcar service resumed on 509 Harbourfront route after an absence of over two years in order to rebuild the street to a new design, and to replace tracks. With the new street design, two auto lanes south of the streetcar tracks were eliminated from Spadina Avenue to York Street in order to extend Harbourfront parkland to the edge of the streetcar right-of-way. Thus, streetcars now effectively run on a roadside right-of-way instead of a mid-street median. A bicycle path and rows of trees are located on the immediate south side of the right-of-way.[7]

By August 2016, after the reconstruction of Queens Quay West, the TTC reported that streetcars were taking 40 minutes to make a round trip instead of an expected 34 minutes. The new side-of-road track design results in streetcars encountering more traffic lights, pedestrians and cyclists, the latter two requiring streetcar to operate slowly to avoid collisions. TTC service planner Scott Haskill suggested that "public realm and urban design" drove the Queens Quay redevelopment at the expense of transit planning. However, accidents along Queens Quay are no more frequent than along other streets.[8] Transit advocate Steve Munro analyzed the route's performance for May 2016 and concluded that the extra running time was consumed from Queens Quay Loop to the intersection of Bathurst and Fleet streets, and that the running time east of Spadina Avenue was the same as before the reconstruction because of fixes to traffic signal problems.[9]

Bollards and signage to discourage automobiles from entering the streetcar tunnel

Between 2014 and January 2020, there were 27 instances of private unauthorized automobiles driving down the ramp of the streetcar tunnel entrance just east of York Street and getting trapped in the tunnel. In a January 2020 incident, a motorist bypassed bollards, flashing lights and gates to become stuck at Union Station. These tunnel intrusions have negatively affected both 509 Harbourfront and 510 Spadina service.[10]

On 12 September 2017, 509 Harbourfront became the first streetcar route in Toronto to operate Flexity streetcars with electrical pickup by pantograph instead of trolley pole. Pending the conversion of the overhead on other streetcar lines, runs to and from the carhouse continue to use trolley poles, with the changeover taking place at Exhibition Loop.[11]

Vehicles used[edit]

Preserved PCC streetcar 4500 on Queens Quay in 2007

The 604 Harbourfront route began operating in 1990 using rebuilt PCC streetcars belonging to the TTC's A-15 PCC classification. (The A-15 class PCCs were rebuilt from A-9 class cars purchased new in 1950–1951.)[12][13]

The PCC cars were replaced by CLRV streetcars in 1994 due to complaints of squealing from the PCC wheels.[12]

On 29 March 2015, Flexity Outlook low-floor vehicles were introduced on the 509 Harbourfront streetcar line. Since March 2017, the line has operated exclusively with Flexity vehicles, making the route fully accessible.[14]

The TTC operated one of its two remaining PCC cars (of the A-15 class) on Sunday afternoons during the summer between Victoria Day and Labour Day, subject to the availability of a PCC and a driver trained to operate it. This service had occurred in 2009,[15] 2010,[16] 2011,[17] 2012,[18] 2016[19] and 2017.[20]


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.[21]

Stop list[edit]

Flexity 4406 behind a CLRV in the Union station loop
Stop Type Connections Nearby Points of Interest
Exhibition Loop Surface terminal GO Transit logo.svg GO Lakeshore West logo.svg
BSicon CLRV.svg  511 
Exhibition Place, Coca-Cola Coliseum, BMO Field
Strachan Ave Surface stop BSicon CLRV.svg  511  Exhibition Place
Fort York Blvd Surface stop BSicon CLRV.svg  511  Fort York
Bastion St Surface stop BSicon CLRV.svg  511  HMCS York
Lake Shore Blvd Surface stop BSicon CLRV.svg  511 
Bathurst Quay Surface stop Toronto City Airport
Dan Leckie Way Surface Stop
Lower Spadina Ave Surface stop BSicon CLRV.svg  510 
Rees St Surface stop CN Tower, Rogers Centre
Harbourfront Centre Surface stop Harbourfront Centre
Queens Quay Underground station Jack Layton Ferry Terminal
Union station Underground station GO Transit logo.svg GO Lakeshore West logo.svg GO Lakeshore East logo.svg GO Milton logo.svg GO Kitchener logo.svg GO Barrie logo.svg GO Richmond Hill logo.svg GO Stouffville logo.svg GO bus symbol.svg
Mainline rail interchange Amtrak UP Express logo.svg VIA Rail Canada simplified.svg
BSicon SUBWAY.svg TTC - Line 1 - Yonge-University-Spadina line.svg
Scotiabank Arena

Proposed expansion[edit]

The proposed Waterfront West LRT project would extend the Harbourfront line farther west to join the existing right-of-way along the Queensway. This project was shelved by the city in 2013[22] but was revived for reconsideration in 2015.[23]


  1. ^ a b "TTC Service Summary November 21, 2021 to January 1, 2022" (PDF). Toronto Transit Commission.
  2. ^ TTC Open Data (September 2014). "TTC Ridership – All Day Weekday for Surface Routes". Toronto Transit Commission. Archived from the original on 12 March 2017. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  3. ^ https://transittoronto.ca/archives/maps/rg1990-back.jpg[bare URL image file]
  4. ^ "Fleet Street track reconstruction starts tomorrow, September 4 – Transit Toronto – Weblog".
  5. ^ "Streetcars roll along Fleet Street tomorrow – Transit Toronto – Weblog".
  6. ^ "Buses to replace TTC's 509 Harbourfront streetcar during Queens Quay revitalization". TTC. 26 July 2012.
  7. ^ Munro, Steve (12 October 2014). "Streetcars Return to Queens Quay". Steve Munro. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
  8. ^ Spurr, Ben (9 August 2016). "Queens Quay redesign proves popular though 'friction' remains". Toronto Star. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  9. ^ Munro, Steve (19 July 2016). "Travel Times on Queens Quay West". Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  10. ^ Lafontaine, Miriam (22 January 2020). "Motorist drives into Queens Quay tunnel and gets stuck near Union Station platform". Toronto Star. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  11. ^ Munro, Steve (12 September 2017). "Pantographs Up On Harbourfront". Steve Munro. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  12. ^ a b Bow, James (22 March 2017). "ROUTE 509 – The New Harbourfront Streetcar". Transit Toronto. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  13. ^ Kohler, Peter C. (22 March 2017). "Red Rocket Renaissance: The A15 Class PCC Cars". Transit Toronto. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  14. ^ "TTC to conduct track work at Spadina-College intersection". Toronto Transit Commission. 25 March 2015. Retrieved 21 December 2016. 509 Harbourfront route will accommodate the new, low-floor accessible streetcars, operating between Union station and Exhibition Place. Proof-of-Payment will be introduced.
  15. ^ "Historic TTC PCC Streetcar back on track". Toronto Transit Commission. 7 May 2009. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  16. ^ "TTC increases service on many routes to summer attractions PCC streetcar to run on Harbourfront line Sundays". Toronto Transit Commission. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  17. ^ "TTC's vintage streetcar a great way to see harbourfront on Sundays". Toronto Transit Commission. 15 July 2011. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  18. ^ "PCC service on Sundays". Toronto Transit Commission. 24 May 2012. Archived from the original on 29 April 2017. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  19. ^ "Take a TTC trip back in time". Toronto Transit Commission. 5 May 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  20. ^ "Take a TTC trip back in time". Toronto Transit Commission. 19 May 2017. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  21. ^ "509 Harbourfront". Toronto Transit Commission. 3 November 2015.
  22. ^ "Residents share wishlist for Toronto budget". InsideToronto.com. 10 January 2013. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
  23. ^ "Waterfront Transit "Reset"" (PDF). City of Toronto. 9 October 2015. Retrieved 6 November 2015.

External links[edit]

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata