Flexity 4407 on Queens Quay in June 2015
|System||Toronto streetcar system|
Union Station (East)|
Exhibition Loop (West)
|Daily ridership||11,572 (2014)|
|Opened||June 22, 1990|
|Operator(s)||Toronto Transit Commission|
|Rolling stock||Flexity Outlook|
|Line length||4.65 km (2.89 mi) |
|Number of tracks||Double track|
|Track gauge||4 ft 10 7⁄8 in (1,495 mm) - TTC Gauge|
|Electrification||600 VDC Overhead|
The Harbourfront LRT began service in 1990 as the 604 Harbourfront. It was the first new Toronto streetcar route in many years, and the first 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. The 1990 TTC Ride Guide indicated the route with its own colour like a subway line rather than as a streetcar route. 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.
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. On October 12, 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.
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. 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.
Between 2014 and early 2017, there have been 22 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. It takes the TTC anywhere from 15 minutes to 5 hours to extract the trapped vehicle. In 2016, one automobile reached Union Station despite the tunnel having no provision for rubber-tire vehicles, with streetcar tracks protruding from a shallow trench. In April 2017, to prevent this problem, the TTC made changes at the tunnel entrance by lowering warning lights closer to driver eye level, by placing a flashing light on a pole between the tracks, by adding rumble strips and by adding signs on posts that also narrow the passage to the tunnel. However, despite these efforts, another motorist drove down the ramp on October 18, 2017, and became trapped in the trench at the bottom. After the 24th incident of automobile intrusion on March 17, 2018, the TTC was planning a gate mechanism to allow streetcars into the tunnel but block automobiles. However, in the meantime, the TTC added 6 new bollards on April 22, 2018 at the east side of the intersection of Queens Quay West and York Street to obstruct drivers from driving onto the right-of-way and into the tunnel.
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.)
On March 29, 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 wheelchair accessible.
The TTC has 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. The PCC operates as an unscheduled extra subject to the availability of a PCC and a driver trained to operate it. This service has occurred in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2016
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.
|Stop||Type||Connections||Nearby Points of Interest|
|Exhibition Loop||Surface terminal||
||Exhibition Place, Ricoh Coliseum, BMO Field|
|Strachan Ave||Surface stop||Exhibition Place|
|Fort York Blvd||Surface stop||Fort York|
|Bastion St||Surface stop||HMCS York|
|Lake Shore Blvd||Surface stop|
|Bathurst Quay||Surface stop||Toronto City Airport|
|Dan Leckie Way||Surface Stop|
|Lower Spadina Ave||Surface stop|
|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||
||Air Canada Centre|
A proposed Waterfront West 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, but was revived for reconsideration in 2015.
- TTC Open Data (September 2014). "TTC Ridership - All Day Weekday for Surface Routes". Toronto Transit Commission. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
- "509 Harbourfront". Streetcar Routes. Toronto Transit Commission. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
- "Buses to replace TTC's 509 Harbourfront streetcar during Queens Quay revitalization". TTC. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
- Steve Munro (12 October 2014). "Streetcars Return to Queens Quay". Steve Munro. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
- Ben Spurr (9 August 2016). "Queens Quay redesign proves popular though 'friction' remains". Toronto Star. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
- Steve Munro (19 July 2016). "Travel Times on Queens Quay West". Retrieved 10 August 2016.
- Spurr, Ben (24 April 2017). "TTC makes it harder for drivers to enter the Queens Quay streetcar tunnel". Toronto Star. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
- Isais, Vjosa (October 18, 2017). "Why do so many cars get stuck in TTC Queens Quay tunnel?". Toronto Star. Retrieved October 18, 2017.
- Arnone, Annie (March 17, 2018). "The TTC is installing gates to stop drivers entering the Queens Quay tunnel". Toronto Star. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
- Spurr, Ben (April 23, 2018). "TTC taking more action to stop drivers entering Queens Quay streetcar tunnel". Toronto Star. Retrieved April 23, 2018.
- Munro, Steve (September 12, 2017). "Pantographs Up On Harbourfront". Steve Munro. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
- Bow, James (22 March 2017). "ROUTE 509 - The New Harbourfront Streetcar". Transit Toronto. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
- Kohler, Peter C. (22 March 2017). "Red Rocket Renaissance: The A15 Class PCC Cars". Transit Toronto. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
- "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.
- "Historic TTC PCC Streetcar back on track". Toronto Transit Commission. 7 May 2009. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
- "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.
- "TTC's vintage streetcar a great way to see harbourfront on Sundays". Toronto Transit Commission. 15 July 2011. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
- "PCC service on Sundays". Toronto Transit Commission. 24 May 2012. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
- "Take a TTC trip back in time". Toronto Transit Commission. 5 May 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
- "Residents share wishlist for Toronto budget". InsideToronto.com. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
- "Waterfront Transit "Reset"" (PDF). City of Toronto. October 9, 2015. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
Media related to 509 Harbourfront at Wikimedia Commons
Route map: Google