New Streetcars Stymied Again by Budget Advisory Committee

I am beginning to wonder whether we should just get rid of the TTC and City Council, including the Mayor, and just appoint the members of the Budget Advisory Committee as transit dictators for life. 

Once again, a proposal by the TTC to buy new streetcars rather than rebuilding all of the CLRV fleet failed at BAC yesterday by a vote of 4 to 2.

The argument against new streetcars turns on the question of the City’s debt load and the fact that a new streetcar fleet moves spending from the “out” years (distant future, beyond the stale-date of BAC members) to the “in” years where it must compete for room with many other projects (including that little subway extension I have written so much about).

City Council and Mayor Miller need to understand some very important facts if they do not find a way to reverse this policy:

  • There are no spare vehicles with which to improve service despite an ongoing 3% increase in demand on the system.
  • There are no vehicles with which to expand the system.
  • There will be no accessible streetcars with which to run a World’s Fair shuttle.  Maybe this will be another possible application for Swan Boats (for which see the “Fantasy” section of this site).
  • The streetcar system will not be fully accessible until almost the last possible date before this would be fully mandated in the mid 2020’s.
  • We may have to close at least one streetcar line to get enough vehicles to run the rest of the system.

There is no question that Toronto has some serious budgeting problems, but Council has its head in the sand if it thinks we can keep putting off significant transit expenditures like this.

My challenge to Mayor Miller is this:  Make this happen, and make it happen before your re-election.

3 thoughts on “New Streetcars Stymied Again by Budget Advisory Committee

  1. Steve,

    With regard to the replacement of the CLRVs, do you favour any of these off-the-shelf replacements?  I understand that considerable modifications would be required. 

    Steve:  At this point, we have not seen a technical evalution by the TTC of the changes needed to fit any of the proposed vehicles to the system.  I have no brief for any particular vehicle at this point.

    I don’t understand why we have to go articulated at all given that this proposed 2 to 3 replacement ratio of cars will be detrimental to headways and probably only hurt ridership.  And I doubt that we’ll ever see the old city go “LRT” in any event, nor would I want it to.  I’d rather see equivalent, but low-floor, traditional streetcars replace the CLRVs.

    Steve:  I agree about the potential impact of wider headways, and this is something the TTC stubbornly refuses to acknowledge.  They are even looking at putting couplers back on the rebuilt CLRVs so that they can run two-car trains in the mistaken idea that this will reduce delays at intersections and improve service. 


  2. It looks more and more like Mayor Miller has traded in his broom, which he brandished on election night to usher in his first term, for a membership in the Old Guard club because he figures that his re-election is more likely to be guaranteed (and financed) by car-driving old homeowners than by his championing of forward-thinking programs.

    This strategy seems aimed at taking over the charismatically deficient Councillor Pitfield’s market niche, so we can expect a Miller landslide this election. And John Tory won’t have to hold a fundraiser to cover Miller’s election expenses this time.

    And Dalton McGuinty’s provincial government won’t have to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for its promise to share in the building of the Sorbara Memorial subway extension.

    Perhaps Mayor Miller really does care about transit besides the subway trains that take him from his home near High Park Station to his office adjacent to Osgoode Station. Or he could be just as parochial as the NIMBYs that Councillor Pitfield seems to be courting.


  3. Seems viable public transit will always be at the mercy of the 3 levels of government working in 3 different directions, blaming each other and past governments for transit shortfalls.

    It’s a shame the 3 levels of govenment can’t work together to cordinate making public transit work.  Expanding the subway to York U, increased GO service in and around the GTA and uncertain ambitions for an Airport/Union rail link are wish lists of 3 different levels of government working on 3 different parts of the same problem.

    Maybe goverments should forget transit, build more roads and say to h… with the air.  The good times for car dealers will continue to roll until public transit can become fast and seamless.


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