The divisive row about the implementation of a streetcar right-of-way on St. Clair West is spilling into this years municipal elections. The Star's Royson James has an excellent right up in today's eddition:
Royson James - Oct 9th 2006
ROW proponent Councillor Joe Mihevc is facing two high profile challengers - former Toronto Mayor John Sewell, and former councillor John Adams.
James does a good job summing up the project:
Given the opportunity to create, almost from scratch, a spectacular street that redefines the boulevard into a pedestrian-friendly, transit-efficient and car-enabling street, the scheme has been compromised almost to the point of not satisfying anyone.
The best that can be said for streetcar travel is it will be reliable — not a small thing. But after tens of millions of dollars, travel along the route will only be marginally faster.
Cyclists and pedestrians don't get the sidewalk space and bike lanes that might have been anticipated. And the car loses a lane in many places.
With a price tag that will be about $100 million - even before the cost of refurbishing the existing streetcars - the average rider will save one minute of travel time. My belief is that the improved reliability will be less that advertised as well. Streetcars will still bunch up - the result of a natural stochastic process.
The poor payback of the project has been well known for a while. Numerous documents and reports have shown a 5-6 minute savings on a complete round trip is all that has been expected. Somehow this has come as a surprise to streetcar advocate Steve Munro. Writes Munro:
Er, didn’t this used to be a one-way saving? Did the writer get it wrong, or has the TTC backed down even further on the benefit of the exclusive lanes? Let’s be generous and say it’s one-way. This represents roughly a 15% improvement in running time. What does this do to the frequency of service (assuming we keep the same number of cars)?
Sorry Steve - check the original documents. [For example - TTC Report "Streetcar Rapid Transit on St. Clair" - December 9th 2002]