After reading some comments about the 502 Downtowner streetcar over at Steve Munro’s website, I would like to discuss four options for making the route more efficient:
1) Make the 502 a ‘local’ streetcar. It could be operated from Bingham Loop and Woodbine Loop, providing local service along Kingston Road and a connection to the 501 at Woodbine and Queen. Any streetcars not required to run on the 502 could then be used for one of two options: to add cars to the 501 as part of their normal operation (i.e. running from either Long Branch or Humber to Neville Park), or as a separate portion of the 501 service operating only between McCaul Loop and Woodbine Loop.
2) Operate the 502 as the ‘502 Kingston’ car and have it head west from Bingham along Kingston Road, then onto Queen Street. When the car its Broadview, it would turn north and head up to Broadview station. This solution would provide for local service along Kingston Road, and parts of Broadview Avenue and Queen Street. This would maintain a ‘direct’ subway connection, something which the TTC seems to think is important. And the main advantage is that it keeps the car from operating into downtown, which can lead to a number delays due to congestion. Also, the 503 Kingston Road car can still provide rush hour service directly to downtown.
3) The car could terminate at Victoria Street. The cars would head west along Queen Street to Church, then south to Richmond, west to Victoria, and then north to Queen. It would then turn east on Queen and head back to Bingham. The main advantages are that it would be one tenth of a kilometre from the subway (and the Queen car makes an ‘on street’ connection to the subway anyway) and that it keeps the car going further west through downtown Toronto. The Queen car would overlap between Victoria Street and Woodbine Ave. providing a good overlap and chance to exchange to the 502 if required.
4) The last option is the worst in my opinion: keep the current route as it is. Unless the TTC can fix the operation of the car to make it run efficiently, this option is simply not practical not preferable. The route is not efficiently run and needs to be fixed somehow.
My suggestion is to adopt Option #2. Shorten the route to operate between Woodbine and Bingham Loops. Any cars currently assigned to the 502 that would not be required could operate between Woodbine Loop and McCaul Loop on a 501 run. This would add serve to the 501’s route through downtown, yet still provide service along Kingston Road. The 503 Kingston Road could operate the all day service, while the ‘502 Downtowner’ runs during the rush hour – essentially just flip the names of the two lines that the TTC already manages as one.