The CBC this morning carried an item reporting that the TTC would begin running buses on streetcar routes to relieve crowding. Chair Adam Giambrone was quoted as saying that cars don’t get out of the yard due to “safety” problems such as dashboard heaters failing and causing windows to fog up.
Sigh. That’s this week’s excuse. Things are getting bad when the best that Giambrone can trot out is that chestnut “safety” that is a catch-all excuse in the same league as “congestion” and “TTC culture”. The real problem is that the TTC has been hiding reliability problems with the streetcar fleet for years, and needed service improvements don’t show up because they don’t have enough working cars. The problem has been masked because at least one carline has been under construction for most of the last five years.
Next week, a new schedule comes into play on Queen with less, yes less service than today. The reason? The operators need even more layover time (strangely only on weekday schedules but not in the evening), and the TTC comes up with this by stretching the headways.
Management’s refusal to undertake a restructuring of the line, to break it into separate components that don’t have an immense round trip and a corresponding need for layovers, is getting quite trying. The use of relief crews at Russell Division works in the east end because the carhouse is near the end of the line, but a completely different scheme is needed in the west for Long Branch bound cars.
If we are going to start busing streetcar lines, then let’s stop running inadequate service to handle the demand on the routes. Stop telling us about average loads that are within standards when news reports include clips of people complaining about huge gaps and crowded cars.
Thanks to inaction on streetcar reliability, riders will have to put up with ongoing problems for three years until the new fleet begins to arrive. Even that is dependent on funding, and I am not convinced that the streetcar fleet will survive the many demands for new money in Ottawa and Queen’s Park. Is this the beginning of the end? A fate like the trolleybus network that was allowed to deteriorate beyond the point of no return?