Back in 2002, I collaborated with Rocket Riders and the Toronto Environmental Alliance to produce Transit’s Lost Decade, a report on the savage cutbacks in transit during the 1990s thanks to budget cuts.
This morning, I received a comment in the thread about the November service changes from James who asked:
How does total service, as of November 23, 2008 compare with peak service prior to the big cuts of the early 90’s?
This sent me digging into my archives to see how we have been doing. For the details, please refer to this linked spreadsheet.
By November 2008, the AM Peak bus service will stand at 1505, still 43 less than the 1990 level of 1548. The difference in capacity is slightly greater on two accounts:
- 1990 includes articulated buses (fleet of 90, number in service unknown)
- 2008 includes 21 buses replacing streetcars on St. Clair for construction
If we assume that at least 70 artics were in service, this is the capacity equivalent of 35 more 40-foot buses. Adjusting the totals gives an effective service of 1583 buses in 1990 versus 1484 in November 2008. During this period, the Spadina subway was extended from Wilson to Downsview, and the Sheppard subway largely replaced bus service from Yonge to Don Mills. However, these do not completely offset the difference in peak bus operations.
On the streetcar network, the AM peak service is down by 37 cars even though the Spadina route did not exist in 1990 (15 vehicles). The level of streetcar service is much, much lower now than it was in 1990 and shows no sign of improving. The long delay in decision-making on rebuilding and/or replacing the streetcar fleet means that “Ridership Growth Strategy” is a hollow term to patrons of those routes.
Please refer to this list of streetcar vehicles and headways for November 1990 and 2008.
Finally, you will note the presence of the Trolley Coach fleet in 1990. With the recent difficulties involving Hybrid Buses, Toronto continues to see how a fascination with new technology first with CNG buses, then with hybrids, has turned out. Hybrids may come into their own as battery technology improves, but today we can only look to our sister-city, Vancouver, to see a real commitment to electric buses. That’s another thread, and I will turn to it soon.