When I was digging in my files for the Queen Subway post just below this one, I ran across a report from December 1972 entitled Streetcar Replacement Policy that discussed the implications of the decision on November 7, 1972, to retain the streetcar system.
Late in 1971, the Commission forces establish a set of parameters for new streetcars if the replacement of all or part of the present fleet was to be considered. These were discussed with Hawkey Siddeley Canada Limited [now part of Bombardier] who advised that they would be interested in the manufacture, and at a price of approximately $173,000 per car.
The report goes on to say that with some simplification of the control system, this price could be reduced by about $22K, and compares these estimates with those for more complex articulated cars proposed for Boston and San Francisco at a cost of about $400K. Those would turn out to be the ill-fated Boeing cars. Philadelphia is mentioned as a possible partner with the TTC for new streetcars, and a joint venture with that system is proposed.
My handwritten notes on the report observed that Commissioner Hurlburt stated that the TTC had no criteria yet for what they wanted to accomplish with these streetcars. He was concerned about problems for handicapped people and asked if low level vehicles were possible. He also asked about multiple unit operation and said that the way to transport people at least cost may be with trains of streetcars on a private right-of-way.
The discussion continued with various Commissioners talking about trying for private rights-of-way on arterial roads since the City seemed favourable to the idea. The Queen streetcar subway proposal floated back into view as an option.
The Commissioners were also worried about the quality of any new cars and the possibility of other manufacturers bidding on the work. Some debates never change.
Meanwhile, in correspondence, Public Works Commissioner Ray Bremner (for whom Bremner Blvd. is named) writes:
It seems to me that your decision to retain indefinitely all of the existing trackage system will necessitate a greater emphasis on a programme of rail renewal and/or rail grade improvements at car stop locations.
Sadly, it took until the mid-1990s before the quality of streetcar track construction came back up to a level appropriate for “indefinite” retention of the system.
The process set in motion on December 5 enventually brought us the CLRV and ALRV fleets, but not until after the fiasco of Queen’s Park’s affair with magnetic levitation ran aground and the government of the day was desperate to have something for its pet transit company, the UTDC, to sell. The original TTC/Hawker design gained many needless bells and whistles, not least the ability to run, yes, at 70 mph (110kph) for a high-speed suburban service the CLRVs would never see.
This time around, the City and the TTC are really embracing streetcars/LRT as an important part of the transit network, and the new fleet is seen as an opportunity to build the transit system, not simply as an industrial boondoggle for Queen’s Park.