Buses that will replace Queen streetcar for summer dubbed 'the better option'

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Now 40 years old, the CLRV streetcar is a piece of Toronto history that almost never came to be

Taking the Queen streetcar from end to end may be a romantic way for tourists to see Toronto, but taking the replacement bus will get residents where they need to go this summer with few detours, says the TTC.

The switch also comes with some perks: all of the buses, unlike the streetcars, will have air conditioning and will be accessible, said TTC spokesperson Brad Ross. 

"You know, it was a bit of a shock to everybody. 'My goodness, you are removing all the streetcars from Queen. How could you do that?' Well, frankly, I think this is probably the better option," he said. 

"I think a lot of our customers who come in from the Beach, for example, will appreciate the fact that the streetcar isn't having to divert this way and that way," he said. "This need to take streetcars off and replace with buses is really about making the journey a seamless one for our customers."

The 501 Queen streetcar will not be available from May 7 until early September as the TTC puts buses on one of the longest streetcar routes in North America. It says the change is necessary because of several construction projects which will interfere with streetcar tracks and overhead wires.

The streetcar route is the city's third busiest, with more than 43,000 passengers daily. It's only been closed once before, for five weeks in 2002. 

A 'legendary' route

The 501 line — which stretches from the Neville Park loop in the east end to the Long Branch loop in the west — has had its share of accolades, and was even featured in a National Geographic book as one of the top ten trolley rides in the world. 

"It's a fabulous route because it goes literally almost from one end of the city to the other. It goes through all sorts of different neighbourhoods. It's a really nice ride. You can sit at the window and see all sorts of different people from all walks of life, from all backgrounds," said Ross. 

"It's a bit of a legendary route, the 501."

Ross said he understands the disappointment of regular riders that the Queen streetcars will be gone for the summer, but he said the work is necessary to build the city.

"It's important to remember that this is city-building work. This is critical infrastructure work that has to be done. The city is continuing to invest in its infrastructure," he said. 

Some of the Queen streetcars will be used on other routes, including Bathurst and King streets, while others will undergo maintenance, he said. There is no transit infrastructure work being done, he said.