The reliability of service on the 501 Queen streetcar has taken a hit amid “a high number of mechanical delays and disablements” that the TTC attributes to the continued use of aging vehicles that have long since exceeded their lifespan.

In a report that will be considered by the TTC board on Wednesday, TTC CEO Rick Leary revealed that there were 2,121 short turns across the system in March, which was a 127 per cent increase from the 931 short turns recorded during the same timeframe in 2018.

He said that about 40 per cent of those short turns occurred on the busy 501 Queen route, which is still predominantly served by older streetcars. Dozens of those streetcars continue to be used on the 501 Queen, 511 Bathurst, 505 Dundas and 506 Carlton routes due to delays in the delivery of the city’s new fleet of streetcars from Bombardier.

The TTC did recently settle a dispute with Bombardier over the delays, though the financial terms of that settlement aren’t known.

“These legacy vehicles experienced a high number of mechanical delays and disablements in March,” Leary wrote in his report. “Finally, the Queen route is in a transition period with LFLRVs (the new streetcars) making up a small portion of the vehicles on the route, mixing with the CLRVs (the older streetcars) that have historically operated on the route. The different speed and operating characteristics of the two vehicle types inherently leads to more bunching and gapping on the route.”

The TTC’s data for March reveals that the new streetcars travelled a mean distance of 13.223 kilometres before a mechanical incident resulting in a delay compared to 3,868 kilometres for the older vehicles.

In his report, Leary said that he expects that the TTC will be able to fully decommission the fleet of older vehicles by the end of this year.

He said that riders can also expect to see service improvements on the 501 streetcar route as more of the new vehicles are introduced over the coming months. Right now, the TTC’s schedule calls for the newer, lower floor streetcars to make up the entirety of the fleet used between Humber Loop and Neville Park Loop by June and between Long Branch Loop and Humber Loop by the fall.

Here is the TTC’s schedule for the deployment of the new streetcars:

  • 511 Bathurst – Summer, 2019
  • 501 Queen (Long Branch Loop to Humber Loop) – Fall, 2019
  • 506 Carlton – Late 2019
  • 505 Dundas – Spring, 2020