The Future of Transit: Swan Boats!

Back in the early days of this board, I posted an item co-authored with my good friend Sarah concerning the use of Swan Boats as a solution to transport technology in the Don Valley corridor.

You laughed!  You scoffed!  You doubted our pride and professionalism! From that day forward, only movie reviews and endless arguments for LRT graced these pages.

Until today!

Now all will be revealed!  The future of Toronto’s transit is canals and swan boats!

He’s gone mad, you say!  He must be drunk, or worse, you say!  But, no, it is true!

First the canals:  CNN today reported that Panama citizens will vote on a $5-billion project to widen the Panama Canal, while Nicaragua is thinking of building its own canal at a price of only $18-billion.  Let’s put this in context.  The canal is 51 miles (81.6 km) long, and that translates to a cost/km of a mere $221-million.

That’s for a whacking great canal to handle huge ocean freighters and take them across the continental divide.  Looking at the proposed Spadina extension’s cost, this is a competitive technology!

Now we turn to the vehicles.  Swan  boats are available (On sale now!  Two week delivery!) for a mere $28,997 (US).  Just go to this site if you don’t believe me. [The URL no longer works.]

People are so fond of making comparisons on vehicle cost — let’s look at a swan boat.  It holds 12 people, hence a cost per seat of about $2,400.

The design load of a bus is around 50 and the current products seat around 30.  At a capital cost of roughly $600K, this is $12,000 per passenger or $20,000 per seat.

Subway cars have a design load of about 200 and seat about 75.  They cost roughly $3-million, for a cost per passenger of $15,000 and a cost per seat of $40,000.

It’s no contest!  Toronto must immediately abandon all plans for unproven technologies and start building canals for swan boats.  Only with this visionary plan will the future of Toronto’s transportation system be safe!

14 thoughts on “The Future of Transit: Swan Boats!

  1. Would we be treated to arias from Lohengrin while waiting at a swan stop?  Reminds me of the famous story of Lauritz Melchior singing the title role at the Met, when some stage hand yanked the swan away before Melchior could get in.  He apparently said to those nearby, “When’s the next swan?”


  2. Subways and buses only encourage urban sprawl.  Swan boat canals will encourage citizens to work and play in their own neighbourhoods!


  3. Whoa, whoa, whoa.

    What about the Humber river?  Discriminating against the west end like that, how shameful!

    Steve:  The original proposal was to counter the Don Valley Corridor study and I am more than happy to entertain a scheme for Swans on the Humber.  This could be an alternative to “Blue 22” — a short canal from the Humber to the Airport, and we could have swans gliding into Terminal 1!


  4. If we consider the Humber River for Swan operation, then Scarborough will want some for the Rouge.  And besides, what would happen during an outbreak of avian ‘flu?  We already had Ottawa not releasing their swans this summer on the Rideau (I’m not making that up, either.)

    Steve:  Our Swans will have the latest in Ontario-developed anti-flu technology.  The Ontario Swan Boat Development Corporation will be a world leader in this vital contribution to transit reliability!


  5. Ben Wendt wrote:
    “I think Swan Boats might be a bit slower than subways. 😥 ”


    You may be right in summer, but in winter the Swan boats will be fitted with steel gliders for the frozen Don… and will beat even GO to Union Station! :’)


  6. How will Swan effluent deposits compare to the current Canada Goose contributions we all treasure so much?

    Steve:  These will be very efficient Swan Boats whose only waste product will be hot air.  We have not yet ascertained the environmental impact of this on the local climate or global warming, but there are possibilities for recapture of this energy.


  7. Steve said:

    The Ontario Swan Boat Development Corporation will be a world leader in this vital contribution to transit reliability!

    Will they be electric swans, or run-of-the-mill fossil fuel?  Surely not CNG! (or as the French say, Cynge. Sorry, couldn’t resist!).  You know my preference is for the trackless, two-winged variety.

    Steve:  Is that with or without automatic retrievers?  This technology could turn into a real menagerie.


  8. For a worst-case scenario, you could always vent the hot air from Queen’s Park station – there’s so much around there already that no one could tell the difference.

    Steve:  I believe this is related to the sort of trick used by building taller smokestacks.  If we can dilute “our” pollution, it doesn’t hurt as much!


  9. How about galleys – perhaps in conjunction with a TTC fitness programme where drivers and ticket collectors are rotated to rowing to work off the effects of their otherwise sedentary jobs.

    Steve:  Why have employees to row the boats when you could have the passengers do it!  Think of the possiblilities for fitness centres.  The TTC could make a fortune! 


  10. And how about WiFi on board using S/WAN software to protect valuable communications data so you can compute while you commute?

    Steve:  Toronto Hydro Telecomm obviously needs to look to underground markets as an extension of the system already in place downtown.


  11. Hi Steve:-

    Maybe getting one of the Great Lights of Thought in our Government(s) to go hook line and sinker for the swan boat plan might really improve LRT in Toronto too. For after establishing a ridership level that the swans can no longer look after appropriately, then we deck over the canals, drain them, install the least expensive railraod track we can, electrify it, buy a fleet of second hand PCCs or their ilk from somewhere willing to assist us in our third world improvement programme and Bob’s your uncle, we’ve just become Newark, NJ. We’d have a line that would need only minimal maintenance for 20 or so years, with vehicles that could speed their riders to the far flung reaches of Swanurbia. What a plan, eh?


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