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New Streetcars More Likely in TTC's Future

Tram-car type T6A5

This past Wednesday, TTC Commissioners decided to rebuild only 100 CLRVs of its fleet of 196. The rebuilds would begin in 2007 and ramp up to 30 cars per year by 2009, extending the thirty-year design life of these vehicles by another twelve.

TTC staff and commissioners are recommending that new vehicles replace the remaining 96 CLRVs. This arrangement will not only maintain the fleet, but give the City flexibility in expanding the system. Given that Toronto’s streetcar fleet is already operating at near capacity, proposals to expand the system, with LRTs on Kingston Road, Eglinton Avenue, the Waterfront and elsewhere, would require new vehicles to be purchased, anyway. By replacing half of the CLRV fleet with new vehicles, vehicles to expand the fleet could be purchased at a substantial discount. Also, it prevents a possible double-cohort of vehicle retirements, since the ALRVs reach the end of their design life starting in 2018.

The approved proposal calls for a prototype for a new vehicle to be delivered to Toronto by 2010, with at least 64 new vehicles delivered between 2011 and 2014 (a further 27 vehicles would be needed to increase service beyond what now operates).

Steve Munro has more details here. He notes that this approach is more costly than simply rebuilding the current fleet of CLRVs, but it is a step that ensures the future of Toronto’s streetcar network, and opens the door for a real expansion. He calls on Toronto’s transit supporters to lend Toronto’s politicians some political backbone:

We need to see a real push from TTC Commissioners (who are also members of Council) and leadership from the Mayor痴 Office. In a recent Toronto Star article, David Miller fantasized about a network of LRT lines in the city. Well, you don稚 get new lines without new cars, and it痴 time for Mayor Miller to support an aggressive LRT fleet plan.

…we need a serious debate and commitment to a streetcar/LRT network in Toronto. This cannot wait for more interminable, tri-partite negotiations.

Spadina Streetcar Operating Below Full Potential?

Spadina Avenue

In discussing the TTC’s proposal for multiple-unit operation, transit activist Steve Munro notes that coupling two streetcars together as a means of improving a line’s reliability only works when headways on that line are very tight. In his view, only Spadina justifies the possible use of multiple-unit streetcars, and that’s negated by the fact that both Union station and Spadina station are unable to handle such trains.

But he notes that transit priority signalling would have as much of a beneficial effect on streetcar operations on Spadina as multiple unit operation. Moreover, transit priority signalling was built into the line. It just hasn’t been turned on.

I also pointed out that if the TTC wanted to speed service on Spadina, they should read the riot act to the transporation engineers who refuse to activate the transit priority signals on much of that route. There is at least as much saving to be gained there as with MU operation, and it痴 available today. TTC staff agreed, but I doubt anything will happen until someone in a senior position like the Mayor starts taking this seriously.

So, if you are wondering why Spadina streetcars often find themselves caught behind red lights on Spadina Avenue, you have your answer. This seems especially silly given how much we spent to bring streetcars back to Spadina Avenue. Turning transit priority signalling on would speed up streetcar service on Spadina Avenue, shortening trips, and allowing the TTC to provide the same level of service or better, using fewer streetcars, saving equipment that could be used to improve service either on Spadina Avenue or elsewhere.

And best of all, we wouldn’t have to pay a thing; we simply have to turn on a facility that already exists. Steve Munro sums up the situation:

City staff need to hear the message that being a 典ransit City� is more than a glossy book and a press kit.

If you believe that Spadina streetcars should have transit priority signalling on Spadina Avenue, you need to write a polite e-mail to Mayor David Miller and possibly the other councillors as well. Spadina streetcars carry far more passengers along Spadina Avenue than the competing car traffic, and it’s time that they were given the priority they deserve.

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