With the 2016 MLS schedule finally released, Toronto FC fans will be looking far ahead to the home opener against FC Dallas on May 7 - nearly two months after the season's start - with great anticipation.
Unfortunately for some TFC fans attending BMO Field on match day might be more inconvenient than last year.
The 509 and 511 streetcar routes will not continue past Fleet Street to travel around the Exhibition Loop, effective January 3 through an undisclosed date in August (prior to the CNE). Fans who typically ride these lines directly to the stadium will instead have to disembark and hop on a replacement bus.
According to Danny Nicholson, of TTC Corporate Communications, "Fans attending games should give themselves some extra time to transfer from the streetcars to the replacement buses. They can also take the 29 Dufferin Bus south from Dufferin subway station."
TTC has posted notices (seen above) and announced on their website the details of the closure, though they don't tell the whole story.
Waking The Red has confirmed with TTC's Service Planning department the following details:
- The posted plans will be in effect until approximately mid-June
- Replacement buses will run every four minutes, however, per TTC Service Planning: "Fans should be prepared to walk approximately 12 minutes from Fleet Street to BMO Field, as shuttle buses, running every four minutes, may not accommodate everyone at peak times."
- Beginning mid-June through the end of July, the 511 route south of Bathurst Station will be run by bus (presumably Bathurst will be under construction, though this is unconfirmed)
- In March, the TTC will confirm whether or not the mid-June and July 511 bus route will deliver passengers all the way through the Exhibition Loop or still require passengers to disembark to replacement buses (Waking The Red will continue to follow this story).
So how does the TTC Recommend Fans Proceed With their Travel Plans?
Should fans wish to avoid the uncertainty of the 509 and 511, they would be best suited to pursue other TTC routes, namely the 504 streetcar, 29, and 63 buses. Again, per TTC Service Planning:
[Fans] can take the 29 DUFFERIN bus, which will continue to operate into Exhibition Place with frequent service. 63 OSSINGTON buses also provide frequent service from the East Liberty Street and Atlantic Avenue, accessible through the Exhibition GO Station underpass. Finally, the 504 KING streetcar is an approximately 10-minute walk from BMO Field.
TTC confirmed that the 63 and 29 bus routes will continue as alternative routes throughout the entirety of the service closures.
How Bad Will the Service Closure Be For Fans?
It would seem that if fans are knowledgable and prepared for the service disruptions, they should not expect more than 12-15 minutes added travel time, one way.
It's true that in seasons past just getting to BMO Field has sometimes proven difficult, particularly during the final hour leading up to match kickoffs. Many fans believe they can arrive just before kickoff with only time enough to grab a beer.
Furthermore, many streetcars are frequently overcrowded (such as the 511) and prospective passengers will need to pass on multiple streetcars to find an empty space. I've personally missed at least three kickoffs due to a series of overloaded 511 streetcars continuously passing me by.
With any luck, these service disruptions, while encompassing a good half of the regular season, won't leave as strong a taste in fan's mouths as the final product on the pitch, good or bad.