Randy McDonald (rfmcdpei) wrote,
Randy McDonald

[URBAN NOTE] "Queen Street and New Streetcars: Less Service, Fewer Stops, Wider Gaps?"

Toronto transit blogger Steve Munro has serious concerns about the likely development of the 501 Queen streetcar route. There may be more streetcars, but that doesn't translate into better service.

The TTC has been inconsistent in statements about how the new cars would affect service. Initially, the idea was that larger cars would provide more capacity, badly needed on many routes including Queen. A few years later, thanks to the penny-pinching budgets of Mayor Ford and TTC Chair Stintz, the idea of actually improving service capacity vanished. Indeed, the TTC has already relaxed its off-peak loading standards for streetcars to allow more standees in a bid to save on operations.

Add to this the highly irregular headways on Queen and other routes, any proposal to run fewer streetcars can only mean one thing: service, which declined substantially when headways were widened for the 75-foot long articulated light rail vehicles (ALRVs), will get even worse with the new larger low floor cars (LFLRVs).

The TTC likes to talk about how running fewer cars will improve service by reducing the bunching inherent when cars are scheduled more frequently than traffic signal cycles. This does not, and has not, applied to Queen Street for many decades. Indeed, the TTC tries to make virtue out of wider headways by generalizing an hypothesis originally developed for a simulation of operations on the busy King streetcar downtown during peak periods. There is no comparison to the Queen car in The Beach.

As for stop spacing, there have been many comments on this site about the excessive number of stops on Queen and other routes. Among the most likely to vanish are the Sunday stops especially if any special sidewalk treatment or fare machine installations would be required. (All of the Sunday stops on Roncesvalles came out as part of that street’s redesign.) Some other stops are simply too close together, and these are often leftovers of historical traffic patterns dating back to the 50s and beyond.
Tags: mass transit, queen street east, queen street west, streetcars, toronto, urban note
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