Why Streetcars?

Tom Jurenka sent in the following note, and it raises questions that deserve a debate.

Hello Steve

As a non-native Torontonian (grew up in Winnipeg, but have lived in Toronto for 24 years now) I have always been puzzled — and often infuriated — by streetcars (and the absolutely terrible traffic light timing in Toronto, but that is another story).

My question is an honest one — WHY? All I can see is the negatives of streetcars:

  • they tear up streets (I’ve lived through Queen Street E, Gerrard, now St. Clair, being torn up utterly to undo the damage of streetcars pounding the rails)
  • they are slow as molasses (as a bicyclist, I routinely pass 5 or 6 streetcars on Queen Street heading from AC Harris to downtown)
  • because of their slowness and immobility they delay traffic all the time, causing snarls and the attendant idling pollution
  • they are super expensive (witness the recent funding mess)

So I’m really curious why streetcars are a better alternative to trolley buses or just plain old buses, which move fast, are mobile, and are less expensive per unit to buy. Would you be able to point me at some links/articles/studies/whatever to help me understand this issue?

Thank you for your time.

Best regards,

Tom Jurenka

This is a far more complex question than just the list above, but I will use this as a jumping off point. Continue reading

Stratford July 2009 Reviews

Last week took me up to Stratford for the first of this year’s visits. Although some may think otherwise, I do not go to Stratford just as an excuse to perform inspection tours of the Georgetown/Kitchener corridor. The trains were on time both ways.

Reviewed here:

Julius Caesar (*)
Ever Yours, Oscar (**½)
Bartholemew Fair (****)
The Three Sisters (**½)
Macbeth (***)

I will return to Stratford in August for another five plays.

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