How the TTC's new streetcars could help or hinder traffic flow

The TTC says it's new streetcars are faster and more comfortable but they could slow down traffic

The TTC promises the brand new fleet of streetcars it bought will be good for commuters in Toronto; even those who travel by car.

Officials with the Transit Commission say the new vehicles are faster than the 30-year old models they will replace and will not need to stop as long to pick up and drop off passengers.

However, traffic flow at certain intersections across the city could be where things get bogged down.

The new Bombardier-built streetcars are almost twice as long as the TTC's current standard-length unit.

That means it will take longer for the articulated streetcars to negotiate corners.

Veteran TTC driver Doug Pickering tells NEWSTALK 1010 that could spell headaches at intersections where streetcars must turn.

"Unfortunately, because of the position we're in, we're going to have to bully our way through (an intersection) a lot of times," he says.

"We are going to be blocking other traffic - there's no other way around it."

Pickering believes it'll take people behind the wheel of cars and trucks time to adjust to sharing the road with the new vehicles.

TTC CEO Andy Byford is confident the new streetcars will actually improve the efficiency of downtown traffic flow.

He promises TTC drivers will be trained to share the road and to keep delays to an absolute minimum.

The new vehicle start going into service in late August and will be phased in over the next 4 years.

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  1. Frankie posted on 06/04/2014 02:19 PM
    Vehicles that block major intersections during a red light should be severely ticketed and the same should apply to bus/streetcar drivers, AND their union should not be able to negotiate the TTC paying for those tickets.

    Major cities like New York and London do this with major intersections and it works.
    1. BettieM posted on 06/05/2014 11:03 AM
      @Frankie New York and London do not have the burden of railed vehicles running on city streets.
  2. Tom posted on 06/04/2014 04:42 PM
    I don't care how fancy or "modern" they look. They don't belong in down-town. If a street anywhere doesn't have a minimum of two lanes opened for car traffic/bikes/parking, there should be no street cars at all.
  3. JohnH_6636 posted on 06/04/2014 05:13 PM
    I saw one being tested on Bathurst on Interactive Panel night. It is basically an LRT (Crosstown etc.) with rake attachment disengaged, and with a Streetcar pole jerry-rigged to it. While they have five cars, each car is about half of a streetcar making it 2 1/2 times as big, so cornering should be faster as the sections are smaller. The problem with forced blocking is the motorists and many pedestrians disrespecting the streetcars often cutting them off between parked cars or walking on flashing hands and numbers. On that same night one taxi cut off my streetcar at least six times, CO-OP, but most are bad.

    Dedicated lanes, like Queen's Quay, Spadina, St. Clair and Fleet street will prevent many delays caused by cars in the same lane. I fear the Kingston Road rebuild did not opt to separate lanes. A streetcar is an LRT as long as the track is free, as soon as regular traffic can use their lane they are just like an old streetcar, at the mercy of whoever pulls in front. It's only Rapid Transit (RT) if nothing is hindering it.

    Agreed with other poster, if you are going to have tracks, make sure there is more than one moving lane for cars. I still find it odd how many Torontonians believe nobody else has streetcars as transit. They are all over the world people, whether called an LRT or not, without dedicated space, they are streetcars.

    As for tickets, they need to have yield laws for these vehicles because they can only turn where the tracks allow, perhaps all of those intersections need transit signals like Queen's Quay has.
  4. franki posted on 06/05/2014 03:17 AM
    Toronto should try one train on various routes and then likely relegate it to Cherry Beach or something as is seems unworkable. Transit users need to get to work quickly, and not on slow no-go vehicles.
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