Today took me out on a ramble around the west end of the city on a three-car streetcar charter organized by the Toronto Transportation Society. The cars used were PCC 4500 (one of the two remaining PCCs in Toronto), Peter Witt 2766 and CLRV 4041 (the one with air conditioning, although this wasn’t a day for it since we’re under the last clouds of the leftovers from hurricane Ernesto).
I spent the first half of the five-hour trip on 2766, an old friend I have not ridden for many years. Aside from the nostalgia of riding an 84-year old car on city streets, it’s fun to see the car reflected in storefronts, and even more fun to watch the eyes of passersby light up to see the old car. For the second half, I rode on 4500 and watched 2766 follow us at a distance.
The striking part of this view was the new neighbourhoods through which we travelled. Seeing the old car in surroundings that didn’t exist even a decade ago reminded me just how much the city, and the area its streetcar lines serve, is changing. This was especially true on Lake Shore Boulevard West where new housing sprouts overnight. Two glaring issues were evident.
First, the proposed relocation of Humber Loop to Park Lawn falls far short of much of the new development let alone areas that are planned for intensification. The TTC needs to keep an eye on this area and its rising demand for transit services.
Second, the service to Long Branch was rather odd. It is supposed to run every 16 minutes. We left Humber Loop westbound leading a service car, and easily outran it to Long Branch. When it finally showed up, it had another car immediately following, and both took extended layovers. Similarly, at Humber both outbound and inbound, we passed Queen cars taking long breaks as they waited to depart eastbound. Is anyone managing this line? Is anyone monitoring the time that cars actually need to make the trip?
Later, we passed through the King/Shaw area with all of its new development. This is a source of constant complaints from would-be riders about the quality of streetcar service.
In all, a wonderful afternoon out in the city on a streetcar charter I didn’t have to manage (I used to run a lot of such events for the local fans) and a chance to see how our city is filling in with new neighbourhoods where transit demand is healthy. People smiled at and waved to the old streetcars and, if only for a moment, didn’t worry about where the next regular car was on the line.