Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Spadina chickens come home to roost

The Globe had a rare moment of originality this past weekend - publishing the results of an analysis of how well the TTC's vaunted (by them) Spadina "LRT" line is working.

The Globe and Mail: Rapid transit? Not on Spadina

As it turns out, the line isn't a rapit transit line - just an expensive way to run the TTC's ridiculously ineffective streetcar vehicles. Neither speed nor passenger volumes have increased since the line went into service. The TTC can pretend all it likes that this it's streetcar system is a light-rail system, but even light-rail booster Greg Gormick isn't buying:

We have to decide whether we're doing light rapid transit or streetcars. Both are good concepts, but Spadina is neither fish nor fowl..

Well Greg - the streetcar system isn't all that great.

The TTC's Manager of Service Planning, Mitch Stambler reponds:

"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," he says. "Service reliability and regularity matter first and foremost."

I guess Stambler follows the theory that if one is caught with one's pants down, that one is best make up the most outrageous lie you can think of, and hope that people are so dumbfounded they can't respond.

The only problem is that service reliability on the Spadina line is poor. The CLRV vehicle has exceptionally slow loading/unloading - especially when busy. This causes big problems with vehicles bunching up. I've used the Spadina line twice in the last few months - both in peak when vehicle headway should be three or four minutes. Instead, I've waited 10+ minutes in the dank, crampled waiting space at Union - before two vehicles showed up.

Now what would life be like if the TTC really got serious about running proper light-rail vehicles as part of a proper light-rail system?

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