Sunday, February 04, 2007

TTC plans for new streetcars - good news

The previous plan to refurbish the existing streetcars seems to be out of favour in favour of low-floor streetcars which will be low-mobility-accessible, unlike the existing models. This alone should have been reason to go for them, along with a modern design (with airconditioning designed in rather than taken out and now being put back) and hopefully quieter operation, especially when stopped. The reintroduction of streetcars in Dublin showed people who would not ride buses would ride the LUAS and it's good to see TTC not yield to the siren song of more buses and one hopes the Budget Advisory Committee will see the sense in this.

The important thing to know is that the existing streetcar fleet is 196 strong so 200 cars is a 1:1 replacement. That sounds fine until you realise the new streetcar lines in the waterfront and Scarborough and extensions of St. Clair to Jane and Bathurst up the hill to St. Clair (if it can be done) will result in fewer streetcars running less frequently to cover the extra route length, albeit larger ones on average with the smaller 18m streetcars replaced by a car more like the length of the larger 28m car. If the Dublin experience is anything to go by, a modular design is critical, given that all of their 30m Citadis cars are to be upgraded to 40m due to heavy demand.

That said, without a serious reining in of Toronto's Roads and Works Departments and the urgent introduction of system wide traffic signal control and next streetcar displays the new cars will suffer the same congestion and customer dissatisfaction as the existing ones. If this plan is confirmed and tenders issued, Steve Munro's blog will be worth watching even more than usual. Now if only TTC would have the bottle to face down the province about the subway to "nowhere and Highway 7"...
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