The Future of Streetcars in Toronto

Correction Nov. 7, 2010: An error in the spreadsheet calculating the number of vehicles required for 501 Queen in 2020 (either Flexity streetcar or replacement bus) caused these numbers to be understated.  I have replaced the spreadsheets and modified the text in the article where appropriate.

The election of Rob Ford as Mayor of Toronto brought deep concerns to many about the future of transit as witnessed in the comment threads elsewhere on this site.  Much of this focussed on the existing streetcar network and the planned Transit City lines, but transit as a whole is a larger issue.

This article is not intended as the definitive defense of streetcars.  Indeed, the whole idea of “defending” them starts from a negative perception.  The challenge for those of us who see a future for streetcars and LRT is to advocate for them, for the role they can play in decades to come.  We also have to be honest about the tradeoffs.  No technology — buses, trolley buses, streetcars, LRT, subways, gondolas, dirigibles, even swan boats — is without its problems and limitations.  Pretending that any one of them is “the answer” is hopelessly shortsighted regardless of which one you might prefer.

The election brought a great deal of what I will politely call bovine effluent to the debate on the transit system, and many vital issues were simply ignored.  Nobody talked about fares, only about the technology to collect them.  Rapid transit networks were conceived to fit within funding that candidates thought could be available, rather than starting with the question “what do we need” and then addressing the cost and implementation.  Regional transit was ignored, except for occasional hopes that Metrolinx, that bastion of clear-headed thinking and far-reaching financial planning, would take at least part of the TTC off of our hands.

Transit City was the heart of much debate.  Whether your platform was “more of the same” or “Miller’s plans must be garbage”, campaigns ignored the fact that transit is much more than Transit City.

One note about terminology:  In this article, I will use the term “streetcar” to refer to the existing TTC system, including those lines operating in reserved lanes.  The operating characteristics of Spadina and St. Clair, with single cars using pay-enter fare collection at closely-spaced stops, really is little more than an upgraded streetcar.  I will use “LRT” for much of the Transit City network where:

  • service will be provided by 30m cars in two or three car trains,
  • all-door loading and proof-of-payment fare system will be standard,
  • routes will be substantially or completely on private right-of-way with transit priority signalling, and
  • stops will be more widely spaced than on the streetcar and bus networks.

We can haggle about definitions, and will always run up against the fuzzy boundary where a streetcar becomes an LRV. Indeed, the replacement of existing streetcars with new stock and a move to all door loading will address some of my “LRT” criteria above, but won’t change the basic fact that most routes spend most of their time dealing with traffic.  Either they run in mixed traffic, or have substantial interference at intersections.

Please don’t clutter the comment thread with this sort of argument as the real issue is the appropriate use of the technology, whatever we call it.  The name is important when trying to explain things to the public who have been ill-served by the deliberate fudging of the streetcar/LRT differences in the campaign.

As I write this, the political standing on streetcars and the Transit City LRT lines appears to be shifting.

  • Mayor-elect Ford’s YouTube video talks about streetcars as a source of traffic congestion, but does not mention eliminating them from Toronto.  They are portrayed as simply not the sort of thing we want in the suburbs, and a few subways would replace the much larger Transit City network.
  • Ford’s campaign literature does talk about removing streetcars from some city streets, and this was later clarified to indicate the right-of-way lines (Spadina, Harbourfront, St. Clair) would survive at least for a time.
  • Ford hopes to meet with Premier McGuinty and change the terms of the streetcar purchase, ideally to kill it.  Whether this position could be mollified by the arrival of new transit funding from Queen’s Park remains to be seen.
  • Councillor-elect Doug Ford (brother of the Mayor-elect) backpedalled on the streetcar issue and claimed that the idea that Ford would get rid of streetcars was an invention of the nasty lefties to scare their supporters.  The fact that Ford’s own literature and statements by candidate Ford directly contradict this position makes one wonder how much the brothers Ford actually pay attention to each other.
  • Recently, Councillor Karen Stintz, mooted as a new Chair for the TTC, made what I read as concilliatory statements about Transit City.  She would prefer subways, but is not unalterably opposed to LRT.  This is a change from her campaign stance where her representations of streetcars, LRT, especially where the latter is underground, and subways were either uninformed or “misleading” in the Parliamentary sense.  As TTC Chair, she would have quite a learning curve.

As I write this, it is unclear what a Ford administration’s position on streetcars might be.

We often hear that buses would be faster than streetcars, but one need only compare bus routes on comparable streets with (usually) 4 lanes much like those where the Queen and King car run.  Slow scheduled speeds are a function of the individual routes, the demands at stops, the street geometry and the traffic on those streets.  It is ironic that the Queen car has a faster scheduled speed over its long route than the Dufferin bus.

Route Speeds 2010.10

Although Ford’s literature claims that the average speed of streetcars in only 17kmh, the speeds planned for Transit City routes start at 22kmh (Sheppard East, Finch, Eglinton East surface section) and go up from there to be comparable with subways in the tunnelled section of Eglinton (28-31km/h).

Estimating the number of vehicles needed to replace streetcar lines turns not just on vehicle capacity, but on whether buses could match or better the speed of streetcars.  From historical evidence on Bay Street, buses were slower than the streetcars they replaced by a factor of about 10%.  Even on short routes like Junction and Mt. Pleasant, the trolley buses, and later the buses, could not make the running times of the streetcars they replaced.

The streetcar network has a backlog of additional peak service requirements going back close to a decade.  The TTC’s ability to add service is constrained by the combined effect of the decision to retire the last of the PCCs, service cuts of the mid-1990s, opening the 510 Spadina line in 1997 and the gradual decline in reliability of the CLRV/ALRV fleet.

Current schedules require 152 of 195 CLRVs, and 38 of 52 ALRVs.  Spares are over 20%, a generous allowance for transit vehicles.  If the TTC were able to attain a 15% spare factor (15 spares for every 100 in service), it could field 169 CLRVs and 45 ALRVs.  Five additional CLRVs will be required in January 2011 when the 504 King route returns to Roncesvalles Avenue (4 cars), and service is improved on 511 Bathurst (1 car).

The order for 204 new streetcars will very substantially increase the capacity of the fleet.  Taking a CLRV (the existing 4-axle cars) as a unit of “1”, an ALRV (two-section, six-axle cars) as a unit of “1.5”, the current fleet is equivalent to

195 (CLRVs) + 78 (equivalent of 52 ALRVs) = 273

The service actually on the street as of January 2011 will be

157 (CLRVs) + 57 (equivalent of 38 ALRVs) = 224

[Note:  For the careful readers, the number of CLRVs here does not match the total shown on the TTC’s Service Summary.  The reason is that there is an ongoing problem in this summary with the count of vehicles in service due to double-counting of cars that switch between routes during the AM peak.  The numbers I use are taken from the count of cars assigned to each route.]

Riding continues to grow especially on the downtown routes which were not as badly affected by job losses of recent years, compounded by high density residential construction on King, and already underway on or near Queen.  Both the King and Spadina routes are at the limit of service that can be operated in the AM peak without moving to longer cars or trains in the manner of services once seen on Bloor-Danforth and on Queen.

Over the past decade, it is not unreasonable to estimate a backlog of demand for the streetcar system of at least 15%.  Growth in future years, if only it could be accommodated, is projected to run at 2-3%.  Conservatively, that is at least 20% over the coming decade, and the combined effect would be about 40% allowing for compounding from 2001 to 2020 by which time the new fleet would all be delivered.

Applying this amount of growth across the board to every route gives an approximation of future fleet requirements.  Note that this is only for purposes of illustration.  Some routes will grow faster due to population shifts and new development, others will grow less quickly.  The overall effect is the point of the exercise.

Route Projection To 2020 [501 Queen requirements in 2020 corrected]

Including spares, about 155 167 of the fleet of 204 new streetcars will be required to handle growth on the existing system to 2020, assuming service replacement on a capacity-for-capacity basis.  In some cases, rather wide headways by streetcar route standards result, and this may require some additional cars so that waiting times do not come to dominate transit trips on these routes.

Other planned improvements include the eastern waterfront services on Queen’s Quay, Cherry and eventually into the Port Lands.

Line management on wider headways will be crucial to the success of the larger cars.  The TTC has a long history of creative writing in explaining why it cannot better manage its service, and this really must be addressed.  The single largest problem with service reliability is that cars are not dispatched at regular intervals from locations where control on departure times is practical.

Short turns on wide headways will produce unacceptably large gaps, and the TTC must move to a headway management philosophy rather than using short turns in an attempt to keep operators “on time”.  This will require a complete rethink of operator work practices by the TTC and the ATU.

The view from 2020 is important because this is roughly the timeframe in which some pronouncements about the streetcar system would have us roll the last car into the barns and retire it to life as a chicken coop.

When the projections are converted to an equivalent bus operation, we can see the effect on headways and on fleet requirements.  In this projection, I have used a replacement ratio of 2.5 buses for 1 Flexity streetcar on a capacity basis.  A separate calculation adds a penalty of 10% for slower loading of a bus fleet to see the effect.  This penalty assumes that headways would stay at the target level, but more buses would be used to handle the added running time.

[The following paragraph has been updated to reflect the correction to the number of vehicles required on 501 Queen in 2020.]

The peak vehicle requirement goes from 135 145 flexity cars to 336 363 buses, or to 370 399 buses if the 10% speed penalty is added.  (Note that spare vehicles do not consume operators and are not included in these figures.)  On some routes, the headway would become very short (55.8 buses per hour on King), while on others it can be argued that the bus headways would be more attractive because for short trips, a long wait for a vehicle can contribute considerably to travel times.  Conversely, fewer transit vehicles per hour reduces the interference, such as it might be, with other road traffic.  Other possibilities include articulated buses or trolleybuses.  These are not straightforward tradeoffs.

Bus Projection To 2020

[Again, this projection is to give a general idea of the combined effect of replacing streetcars with buses and accommodating reasonable expectations for riding growth.  Other scenarios are possible including one where transit is starved of resources to make a bus plan fit within a larger political agenda.]

Finally, turning briefly to Transit City, Mayor-elect Ford argues that the TC network will doom people to take hours getting across the city.  However, his Sheppard/BD subway loop plan leaves large areas without rapid transit notably the northeast and northwest quadrants of Toronto, not to mention the dense Eglinton crosstown corridor.  People in these areas will still have to ride buses to reach the rapid transit network.

If we are going to seriously talk about additional subway building, this must address actual needs for travel, not merely be an exercise in recycling the monies presumed to be available from cancelling Transit City.  If subways are to be “the answer”, then let us be honest about the scale of construction, and the cost both for building the network and operating it for decades to come.

As I said earlier, this is not intended to be the definitive article on the future of streetcars, and many other discussions will spring from points raised here and from the inevitable proposals at Council and at the TTC.

The future of transit, whatever it may be, requires well informed debate.  This should be based on more than a desire to get the Queen car out of the Mayor-elect’s way as he drives to City Hall.

94 thoughts on “The Future of Streetcars in Toronto

  1. It’s interesting to compare P. Coulman’s experience on the east side of the Queen run with my experience on the west side. The routes work quite differently. In the west end, you are likely to get a standing load by Humber loop inbound in the morning, although not necessarilly. I’d be waiting for the end of the world should the 145 get a standing load, or even filled all its seats….or even filled half its seats (and this on a New Flyer LF).

    Another difference is the sheer distance from Long Branch to Yonge, versus Neville to Yonge. For anyone thinking it’s ‘excruciatingly slow’ from Neville to Yonge, that’s what, a half-hour or forty-minute trip even in rush hour? From Long Branch loop, half an hour gets you to Roncesvalles, and another half hour to Yonge (could take longer around 9 AM and 5 PM). And of course every (in theory) Queen car runs to Neville Park, while only every other (in theory) makes it to Long Branch loop. The Lakeshore 508 does about as much good as the Kingston Rd. pair, which is to say not much.

    Another key difference is that there are a lot of west-end destinations. While there certainly are people who ride through from Long Branch to Yonge — I was one of them, and there were other regulars — there are also a lot of intermediate destinations. This difference might explain the vast difference in success between the Beach express and the Humber Bay express. (Plus, of course, the the option of taking GO from Long Branch or Mimico station if you really want to get to the business core as quickly as possible.)

    Steve: A common factor in observations from both ends of the line is that the cars are full long before they reach downtown. This slows down operations because handling stops takes longer with a crowded car, and it discourages riders who cannot get on. We need to sort out the problems that arise from the quantity of service from those that are due strictly to the technology that provides it.


  2. Steve comments: “Steve: A common factor in observations from both ends of the line is that the cars are full long before they reach downtown. This slows down operations because handling stops takes longer with a crowded car, and it discourages riders who cannot get on.”

    The amazing thing is that the last few inbound morning Queen cars I’ve been on have been standing-room only passing through Humber loop, and the people waiting at the loop crowded on anyway. It makes me wonder if the line management has made service on Lake Shore more reliable (so it seems to me) while really disrupting Humber service. Surely anyone who waits at Humber loop soon learns to wait for an empty Humber car turning around instead of boarding a through car with no seats left….unless they’ve learned that “squeeze on the first streetcar that comes, ’cause you don’t know how long it will be ’till the next one shows up”.

    These streetcars then leave people behind at the stops from Roncesvalles through to at least Bathurst. The fact that those left behind stare very unhappily back up the street tells me that there’s no following car that turned at Humber or Sunnyside.


  3. Does canceling Transit City require council approval, or simply negotiations between the mayor and Provincial Government?

    Steve: Strictly speaking, Ontario could tell Toronto to get stuffed and build Transit City anyhow. In practice, they need municipal approval and co-operation. Council is already on record strongly supporting TC, and they would have to reverse this decision before Ford could legitimately claim that he spoke for the city on this subject.

    It’s worth pointing out that a politician’s campaign literature does not become a binding document just because he gets elected, and many will have voted for Ford based on his proposals to rein in taxes, not for specifics of his transit plan.


  4. Anne said: “However, even when they are added to my post above you will still find that the streetcar track replacement was ONE of the factors.”

    Yes, but my response was not in regards to the track replacement being a contributing factor but to your language which suggested that it was the only factor.

    We can say with certainty that the way the 7th Wave building was constructed contributed to why it ultimately was torn down after the fire since Starbucks survived with only minor damage even though it faced similar conditions but was built to modern standards. However, what’s not so clear is if the 7th Wave was already gone by the time the trucks left the station. It’s 300-400 metres from the 7th Wave to the fire station and the delay caused by running that vs being able to successfully call 911 first might have made the difference.

    Also, did the deactivated fire hydrants actually make it more difficult to fight the fire? Simply put, they were not an unexpected event and fire crews are not dependent on nearby access to fire hydrants due to the storage tanks in the pumpers (although, it does make their lives a lot easier). If they were able to connect to a working hydrant before the tanks ran dry, then the issue is moot. If they weren’t able to do so, then that definitely would have made it more difficult. As a result, that’s something that we really need to see what the report on the fire says on the matter.

    One final point to consider, did rubbernecking slow down the response time of the fire crews? You made mention of “people who were trying to get anywhere on Queen St. that night” and large groups of people force emergency vehicles to be driven much more cautiously regardless of lane reductions to avoid additional injuries as a city tv cameraman recently illustrated. I’m not trying to shift blame, but rather stating human nature.

    Now, without reading the incident report, no one here can say for certain what was the “most responsible” factor and that might not even offer a straight forward answer. As a result, we really need to have all facts on the table when we are faced with multiple contributing factors in a situation like this before we can consider which one made all of the difference. That was why I was frustrated with your original post because without looking at all the factors, you potentially don’t solve anything and establish the potential for a worse disaster than the loss of a local business next time.

    Anne said: “However, I note that you neglected to address my following point, which was the Beach Metro coverage of all the businesses that went bust during that time.”

    Why would I need to restate the obvious? There are always impacts on the local economy during any transportation construction project from the beginning (expropriation and business relocation), duration (traffic disruptions), and aftermath (shifting traffic patterns and changes in taxes & rents due to property value fluctuations) with the impact during each stage being determined by the project’s scale and the ability (or desire) to manage them in a way that minimizes them. That said, this is something that the TTC has been horrible at managing for a very long time (look at what was levelled during the construction of the first section of the Yonge line just to give an extreme example). It’s only the loss of tolerance for the “we know best attitude” over the past 20-30 years with government agencies which has forced the TTC to change their attitude with questionable results.


  5. Steve:

    What a good thing it is that you continue to provide this forum for reasoned (mostly) and intelligent (mostly!) discussion about transit and its importance to the future of Toronto. Thank you.


  6. Anne said: “However, I note that you neglected to address my following point, which was the Beach Metro coverage of all the businesses that went bust during that time.”

    I have seen more businesses closed on Bloor than on St. Clair or Dundas west of Bathurst. There are no Streetcars on Bloor or construction.


  7. Steve: For reasons that will be obvious, I have left this comment exactly as it was posted, save for the interpolation of my comments.

    I hate streetcars period!
    Nostalgia has no place on our over crowed roads, it only creates grid locks.

    I am livid over our lovely Roncesvalles Ave., now being converted into a NO CAR ZONE! Yup, you read correctly, NO CAR ZONE.
    Are you ready for this, Councilor Gord Perk has extended our sidewalks to meet the streetcars, so that those stepping off or on to the streetcar don’t have to walk on the road. Unbelievable!

    Now, car drivers can no longer pass these clunkers. New or old, they are still grid lock creators. No longer can drivers make a U-turn on Roncesvalles. We will have to go seriously out of our way, down side streets to back track. In other words, Roncesvalles is now going to be a 1 way street. (yes, north & south bound, but no way to turn around or pull over).
    We just lost 30 parking spaces to accommodate these streetcar platforms.
    In other words, when a car is behind them, that car is stuck making ALL the stops with no way to escape except to turn down a side street and avoid Roncesvalles all together.
    And what about all the delivery trucks… they too will add to the grid lock as they will have so much trouble finding parking as there is no more an area for anyone to pull over, wait for traffic to pass and then back up.
    Wait, it gets better. During rush hours, sometimes there are 3-4 streetcars back to back coming down the street. And if a car is sandwiched in between them, and sees a possibility of a parking spot……the entire street will come to a halt waiting for the other car to pull out and for the car on the road to somehow make it into the spot.
    Most women need 2 or 3 tries to back into a spot. Meanwhile, the traffic will build down to Queen St. and around the corner, or North towards Bloor. This is a reality.
    We have already experienced this with the construction……and now Gord Perks is making this grid lock as a way of life for us bcos he favors streetcars over buses.

    Buses can pull over and allow cars to pass. But no, that is way to easy. Lets just create
    more grid lock. Car shoppers will not tolerate this and will shop elsewhere. What a bright move.

    People use their cars to load up on tons of food staples to feed their families, yet bcos of the archaic streetcar being forced upon us on Roncesvalles with these extended platforms instead of buses, we will now be forced to avoid these wonderful stores and do our shopping in car friendly strip malls.

    Talk about a major revenue loss for the shop keepers. They already lost 30% or more of business revenue due to construction and they know that people with cars will just continue to avoid Roncesvalles & do their shopping in car friendly areas.

    Do I hate streetcars…….you bet your life I do!
    I hope Rob Ford annihilates them once and for all. 🙂

    Steve: Nostalgia has little to do with it. Yes, I like streetcars, I admit it, but I liked the older ones better than the newer ones, probably because that’s what I grew up with. My interest is much more in seeing the streetcar system operated with vehicles that actually work reliably, with enough service on the street so that riders can actually get on, with reliable headways rather than the litany of excuses about how it is impossible to run transit service in mixed traffic, with a technology that once carried far more riders than it does today, and which has the capacity to rise to the challenge of increased population density in our city. (I could go on, but regular readers here have heard this rant before.)

    The new design for Roncesvalles was the product of much community consultation, far more than for typical city projects. The widened sidewalks are intended to make the streetcars more accessible while leaving room for parking between the stop zones. Speaking of stops, the number of stops on Roncesvalles will be less than today with the result that fewer places will be blocked for transit operations (bus or streetcar).

    The construction last year on Ronces had nothing to do with the streetcars, but was required to replace a 100-year old watermain, the original service from the era when this neighbourhood changed from rural to the outskirts of a growing city. This year’s street reconstruction, annoying though it may be, has actually gone very quickly for a project of this size. It would have finished much sooner, but the startup was delayed about three months thanks to the civic workers’ strike last year — the folks who prepare the designs for contracts were on strike, and then there was both a backlog and an overload of work thanks to the provincial and federal stimulus funding.

    The idea that buses will pull out of the way of cars at stops is quaint on two counts. First, it is quite typical for buses to stop at an angle to the curb because cars and vans are parked so close to intersections that there isn’t enough room for the bus to properly swerve into the curb lane. Among other effects, this blocks following traffic and makes leaving by the centre door a challenge for anyone who cannot easily handle very high steps. People with mobility problems then use the front doors by choice, and this slows loading and increases stop service times. Second, the number of buses will almost certainly be greater than the streetcars they replace, and so traffic will be blocked more often by them stopping.

    I love the idea that we need special provision for women who seem incapable by your measure of parking properly. Maybe we should just ban them from the streets everywhere to speed up traffic since there are far more of them than streetcars.

    Shops on Ronces get some, but certainly not all, of their traffic from those who drive and park. This is a local shopping area like many others in the city. I have walked and TTC’d up and down the street many times, and don’t see a lot of turnover at the parking spaces. People are walking to the stores, and that’s the backbone of the trade. Even if both sides had parking allowed all day, this could not begin to provide enough space for customers to sustain all of these shops.

    As for Councillor Perks, well, he got over 50% of the vote in the recent election, and so he must be doing something right.

    Rob Ford is Mayor-elect, not Dictator, and there are many other issues about keeping streetcars that will bear on any decision to retain or eliminate them.


  8. I was expecting to be infuriated by Missy’s comment, but I was left chuckling.

    Speaking of Roncesvalles, do you know if there would be additional left-turning restrictions? Also, the kerb lane between streetcar stops would effectively be for parking all day?

    Steve: I believe that there are no new turn restrictions, and that some of the farside stops are intended to allow left turns to occur behind streetcars serving these stops. The curb lane between stops is intended as a parking and loading zone. I’m not sure if there are specific areas reserved for loading (i.e. with very restrictive parking periods).


  9. Hi Steve
    I, too, agree with Jacob Louy’s comments on Missy’s post. I would like to mention to Missy that cars themselves have created the traffic gridlock that we now have. Our unceasing rush to create low density neighbourhoods that cannot support public transit has resulted in far too many cars. Reading other areas of Steve’s website and a trip out to car land will back up the facts of what cars have created. (John Sewell’s book “Shape of the Suburbs – Understanding Toronto’s Sprawl” is another excellent read on this subject.)

    One of the most interesting, and graphic, demonstrations of car congestion was a poster that London Transport did many years ago. It showed a street full of cars and showed that all of this congestion could fit into one bus (note that a streetcar would have cleared out much bigger street) and the street was cleared of traffic.

    Steve: The TTC has done the same sort of thing. Look at the 2009 Operating Stats page and scroll down to “On The Environment”.


  10. Steve, your comments on Missy’s post were well stated. Of course, I had to stop laughing before I could read them – I just love Missy’s form of ‘newspeak’ where the definition of a “1 way street” is one that allows travel “north & south bound”, though I imagine that definition includes “east & west bound” for streets oriented that way!😉

    I still giggle just because of bcos.

    Seriously, the new arrangement for Roncesvalles has been working well on Trondheimsveien in Oslo for many years.


  11. When riding the subway between Summerhill and Rosedale, it can get quite shaky if the subway is moving fast. Also, the 501 Streetcar gets really shaky when the streetcar driver is gunning it down the Queensway. The streetcar isn’t as shaky when it guns down Lakeshore, however. Is this because the pavement holds the tracks better, but the tracks on the Queensway have less support?

    And so is it better to pave all new trackage (including Transit City)?

    Steve: This is a question of maintenance. Track laid on ties in ballast can shift around, and the ballast itself can develop hard and soft spots. There seems to be an ongoing problem with the TTC not keeping its ballasted track in good order.

    Paving all of the track adds to maintenance costs because you have to break up the concrete to get at the track, but reduces short-term costs because the track is in a more rigid structure. “Penny wise and pound foolish” is the expression that comes to mind.


  12. Back in 1976, due to a fire in Philadelphia Carbarn fire, SEPTA purchased thirty used PCC cars the TTC at $12,500 each. The cars were re-gauged by TTC crews at Hillcrest Shops from Toronto gauge (4′ 10-7/8″) to SEPTA gauge (5′ 2-1/4″) at an additional $4,000 each. The trolley cars on the SEPTA system were equipped with wheels at the tops of the trolley poles to receive power. The Toronto cars arrived with slider-shoes on the poles instead of wheels, and it was decided to retain sliders on the cars as an experiment. During 1976 it was decided to convert all SEPTA surface rail vehicles to the slider-shoe type of power collection. See this article for the complete story.

    While the CLRV would start to arrive in 1977 and revenue service in 1979, the TTC still had a surplus of PCC’s. Today, the TTC has a shortage of streetcars due to cutbacks in the last part of the 20th century. When accounting dictates policy at the TTC instead of operations, we end up in the situation today where we don’t have enough vehicles to operate the streetcar network efficiently.


  13. Steve wrote, “There seems to be an ongoing problem with the TTC not keeping its ballasted track in good order.”

    This may be another ugly face of “TTC Culture.” At one of the Transit City open houses, I had a chat with someone I know involved with one of the projects and told me that the track maintenance people hate ballasted track. The implication was that they oppose it where ever possible and this was a major reason why side-of-the road alignments are avoided. Naturally, driveways are a practical reason against side-of-the-road, but in the few places within Toronto where this is not the case (Eglinton west of Don Mills and the Richview lands for example) the official word is still “driveways” even though there are none for the first example and there are currently none in the second (and building the LRT first can dictate how development will take place to keep it that way).


  14. I searched and searched to find a streetcar thread … and this is what i came up on… so I’ll just ask it here…

    Do you know what the projected timeline is to have overhead reinstalled on routes that have been missing it forever?

    The wires on Dufferin could easily be replaced now that the jog has been completed… same with parts of adelaide…

    And while I’m at it.. what’s the deal with the switches on Roncey that are now NA disabled?!

    Steve: I will inquire. The absence of overhead here makes short turn options for the King and Queen cars more difficult, and the replacement is overdue. Adelaide isn’t just waiting for overhead but for track, and that’s not even in the current five-year plan. As for the switches, I have never been able to figure out why the TTC takes so long to re-establish automatic operation at intersections (including reinstalling and connecting transit priority detection) after track construction.


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