The Toronto Transit Commission's
Streetcar Lines Should Die!

Jan 5, 1999 - Another reason to get rid of them: A massive snow storm has created gridlock on streetcar routes.  Instead of busses, that can get around stalled cars, stuck cars, parked cars, and other track blockers, we have streetcars that simply line up and go nowhere.  If we had busses, we could get creative and adapt to these messes.  Instead, we must pay, as in the picture, 12 streetcar drivers at @$18/hr each to sit around and wait for a tow-truck for themselves or the offending vehicles.  It makes NO SENSE!

This is 1999 - and we can buy busses with Canadian technology that run on natural gas (text of story here if link is bad) - natural gas which is cheap and abundant in Canada.  Toronto should be showcasing and highlighting this technology on its once proud transit system.  Instead, we rely on old technology that cannot stand the test of bad weather or variable conditions (traffic, snow, stuck switches, etc.)

The arguments FOR streetcars are all simply nostalgic - because they cannot be economic.  To say that streetcars do not cause pollution is also nonsense.  Since a great deal of Ontario's electricity is produced by coal burning plants here and across the border, we are getting the bad air in a greater dose wafting and settling on the GTA; especially noticable in summertime.  The other huge disadvantage is the incredible extra cost of running these vehicles.  $45,000/km for track repair - capital cost is almost six to TEN times more than a natural gas bus.  When streetcars stop (or break down), they block ALL traffic - creating an entire roadway of idling, stalled traffic.

$60 Million For Overhead Wires

In the wake of the fact that TTC GM David Gunn says it will cost the TTC over 60 million to replace its aging overhead wires and poles on its streetcar routes, isn't it time the TTC gave up on 100 year old technology and scrapped its streetcars? Streetcars are noisy, destroy the roads, cost many times more than busses, break down more, have more service failures that block entire roads, and cause far more pollution than they allegedly save by holding up idling traffic.

It's time the TTC started to invest in some new, natural gas busses. By contrast to the streetcar, they are efficient, can get around traffic, can be used on any route, don't require huge track crews to rebuild the roads, and are cheaper to operate and replace.

It's time the TTC had some real leadership to take them into the 21st century. Instead, we have TTC leaders who have "paradigm paralysis", and cannot see new ways of doing things, and rely on the old models, like streetcars and subways. Unlike busses, streetcar and subway routes cannot be moved to adjust to changing traffic flow and population/commuter patterns.

Has the TTC seen the future, where there will be more virtual commuters using high speed telecommunication to go to the office?

It's clear that with the incredible sums of money the TTC is wasting on subways and streetcars, they could replace a large percentage of their rickety bus fleet with state of the art natural gas busses and bus lanes. With quick and nimble new busses, the TTC could increase service frequency, reliability, and ridership. They could use the leftover money to invest in a state of the art fare system, where smart cards are used to charge riders by use/mileage. Imagine going from Union Station to Dundas Station for 20 cents, instead of $2.00, the current flat rate. It's ridiculous it costs the same to go 50 meters or nearly 100 kilometers.

We need leadership to take us into the future, not leadership that simply extends the past.

Related article: Gardiner 6, Streetcars 24

Do your part to help! Write to your Toronto Councillors, or better yet, specifically to Howard Moscoe , TTC Chairman at the New City of Toronto

[Canadian Protest Home Page]

Jan 5, 1999

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