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Spadina Not Rapid Transit?

That was the subject of a major feature article in today’s Globe and Mail. Stephen Wickens cites anecdotal evidence to suggest that the Spadina streetcar line is not all that it’s cracked up to be.

Some of the issues he raises are tenuous. He relies on the reported travel times of transfers to suggest that the Bathurst streetcar runs to Queen faster than Spadina. The Bathurst transfer hasn’t been changed since at least 1966, so it’s doubtful that this information is accurate. But he has a point that Spadina may be a victim of its own success. A Kensington Market resident explains that he takes Bathurst instead of Spadina to avoid the crowds at Spadina station. Ridership on the Bathurst streetcar has fallen slightly since the Spadina streetcar replaced the buses operating on the street.

Another point that even Spadina’s advocates make is that the line had so many compromises built in to try and placate car drivers. The intersections do slow things down, as do the number of stops. In this writer’s opinion, the TTC would do well to eliminate a couple.

But as Mitch Stambler, the TTC’s manager of service planning, states, the Spadina streetcar line wasn’t about rapid transit, it was about reliable transit. From the article: “We have emphasized over and over again that on Spadina or St. Clair or any other route where we’re looking to establish a right of way, it’s not an issue of speed. Service reliability and regularity matter first and foremost.” Spadina doesn’t see the delays that Bathurst has seen, now that the dedicated lanes are in place.

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