TheStar.com | GTA | Transit City full speed ahead

TheStar.com | GTA | Transit City full speed ahead.

This piece is a week or two old now, but nice to see Toronto is moving ahead on some new transit ventures.  Transit City is an ambitious plan by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) to criss-cross the city with light rail corridors.  Part of the plan has been completed already.  The St. Clair streetcar was converted over to a right-of-way light rail that helps to prioritize the movement of light rail trains up and down the major east-west street.

One of the other bright possibilities is the replacement of the much maligned Scarborough RT, Vancouver SkyTrain’s driver operated cousin.  The RT runs for a few stations from the end of the Danforth Line to Scarborough Town Centre, but it is a really expensive technology which is only provided by Bombardier and does not interact with its environs very well.  A street level light rail replacement would be welcome and likely less expensive to operate than the RT.

Nice to see that Toronto is deciding to save some precious money by going with light rail.  It will hopefully be a good example for the rest of Canada if it works.  All the light rail pundits say that light rail is financially more effective than subways and metro systems for less than extremely busy routes.  The pundits also say that light rail helps to animate the street and brings transit to a human level without trapping the train in the rest of traffic.

If you scan many of the comments that accompany the article, one finds a lot of support for subways to criss-cross the city instead of light rail.  However, the price tag seems to sky rocket with tunnelling and larger rolling stock.  Also, critics would say that subways promote the movement of people through neighbourhoods instead of feeding them into the neighbourhood.

Given how cash strapped the TTC has been for so long, light rail is definitely a better option than more subways at this point.  If you have ridden the TTC subways in the past decade, you will have noticed a lot of wear and tear compared to a lot of other transit systems in Canada.  Transit City seems like a sound plan.  Let’s hope for once that a decent transit plan can reach its full potential unhindered by political and financial forces.

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