Toronto’s New TTC Streetcars: Giving customers our best and maximizing returns on our investment
Sunday June 23, 2013
At the TTC Commission meeting this Monday we will discuss TTC CEO Andy Byford’s proposal to improve service for the approximately 60,000 customers of the 504 King streetcar, the busiest surface route in our system. The media has circulated Mr. Byford’s idea for a short trial period test (likely during Toronto’s showcase 2015 Pan Am Games) making a part of King Street a priority for streetcars during morning rush hour.
In advance of the more formal discussion – and as a follow up to the media coverage – some background.
You likely know that our current streetcars are 30 years old and lack air conditioning and accessibility for all. They have been maintained and held together by the great skill of many TTC workers. You may also have read or heard about our new, accessible TTC streetcars, which are being tested on our streets right now. Thirty-six Toronto City Councillors – many still on council today – voted in 2009 to buy new streetcars to replace the antiquated streetcars a quarter of a million TTC riders currently use each day.
Vote history on New Streetcars (CC37.1):
To his credit, in January, 2012, Mayor Rob Ford recognized the need for better transit:
“This money will help us pay for capital purchases we need to improve transit in Toronto.”
(“Ford wants to use surplus to pay for streetcars” Don Peat, Toronto Sun, Jan 6, 2012
Over $1 billion Toronto taxpayer investment dollars have been committed to improving the mobility of over 300,000 expected TTC streetcar riders daily for years to come. This investment will last for many years to come and, because of this, I believe we must do our best as a council and a city to ensure our investments work as effectively as possible.
Our TTC streetcar network alone moves more people than the entire GO Transit network. Our downtown core is growing. We should at least consider and test all options, whether they be changes to turns, signaling, enforcement, route management, or lane/street restrictions.
We have heard – loudly and clearly – that what is currently happening on King Street and Queen Street at rush hour is not working, for cars, bicycles, taxis or streetcars. In his role as TTC CEO, Andy Byford has courageously suggested testing a change on King Street at morning rush hour, in order to help all users of the road, not just TTC riders. I support him in this. We must explore all options because it is not getting better with the status quo.
I ask for my colleagues’ support to maximize our return on investment. Andy Byford’s proposal is but one to try to improve service for all and I think it merits testing for a short time to evaluate. As Council’s TTC Chair, I of course welcome any options from the Mayor and Council colleagues to ensure our billion-dollar-plus investment in and for Toronto works as well as possible, for all users of the roads from the Danforth to Roncesvalles, and all places in between.
Again, Andy Byford, on behalf of 60,000 King 504 riders and 50,000 riders of the equally challenged Queen 501 streetcar, is merely asking for a temporary trial period to test this as a possible remedy to an ongoing situation experienced by all users of the road.
As I said earlier this year, saying something and doing nothing is still doing nothing.
Chair, Toronto Transit Commission
Media coverage on King Street proposal: