National Geographic includes the TTC’s Queen streetcar, the 501, one of the top 10 trolley routes in the world. It’s a crowded ride, but oh, what a view. The 501 has become emblematic of the stretched service on the TTC. But finally there’s a glint of good news for the much-maligned queen of Toronto’s streetcar routes. The venerable 501 – known as the Queen car – has made National Geographic’s list of the world’s top 10 trolley rides. It’s a distinction shared with streetcar routes as far-flung as Melbourne, Seattle and Lisbon, part of the contents of the coffee-table book Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Greatest Trips, published in October.
“Throwbacks to an earlier age, the great trolley routes we selected let you jump on and off with the locals while riding through some of the most scenic and historic districts of each city,” wrote National Geographic editor Larry Pogue of the selections.
According to the book, the Queen streetcar made the list because it is one of the longest routes in North America while showcasing “lively downtown Toronto.”
The 48.9-km. line stretches from Long Branch on the Mississauga border to the city’s easternmost streetcar loop at Neville Park.
“It is a wonderful route,” said TTC spokesperson Marilyn Bolton. “What I love about it is the interesting, shops, buildings and architecture you can see.”
Along with being the city’s longest route, the 501 has a reputation for being among the most troubled. The TTC’s estimate of 43,500 riders each weekday in 2006 is down from 63,000 in 1981.