Archive for the ‘Streetcars’ Category

The NY Times Does Toronto

2009 May 18

In yesterday’s Sunday edition of the New York Times, an article appeared fawning over the city of Toronto.

The featured journalist, Danny Lee, makes a few suspect claims (streetcars trolleys run like clockwork??), and he seems to be so enamoured with the West End (West Queen West/College/Ossington) that almost all his recommendations take you there.  Otherwise, it’s a pretty glowing review of our beloved city.  The only thing is, who is reading this?  I might guess that most people reading the Sunday NY Times would be more interested in cocktails in Yorkville than at Sweaty Betty’s.  But I digress.

What it all comes down to is that TZero is actually a great, interesting, diverse city that can be an attractive destination for people even from one of the greatest, most interesting and most diverse cities in the whole world.

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Quote of the Day: harASSment!

2009 February 20

“Don’t let yourself get a fat ass, just because you’re sitting down all day long.  That’s what happens to us.  You have to do sit-ups or some shit.”

– the drunk, offensively boorish crazy on the College Streetcar this afternoon, addressing the trainee driver.  The trainee was very gracious and polite . . . and was doing a great job, by the way.

TTC Sexytime

2009 February 18

Poetry on the Way is a cultural program placing short bits of verse on TTC subway cars, buses and streetcars around the city.  I’ve seen these poems sporadically over the course of my two years in Toronto, but find them mostly banal.  Today, however, I read one called Escondido Night, by Jim Christy – and let’s just say the metaphor it suggests is a little, er, racy.

The moon is the shape
Of this hidden cove
fishing boats are constellations
We floated through a heaven
that glittered phosphorescent
like plankton in tinfoil
And paused between a pair:
Aurorita and Viridiana, to thrash about like comets just
Let out of school.
And continued on a light year
later      Moondust in my mouth
And all over your body

Whew!  I need a cigarette after that.

(photo from blogTO)

Miss, I’m Going To Have To ttC You Off The Train

2008 November 28

Click here to read a hilariously typical story about the TTC.

Jesus Loves You, Call 416-929-1500

2008 May 13

That was the hand-written message on the bottom of the “gospel tract” [the printed page material that is needed for God’s people all around the world to fulfill His command] that I found on the streetcar. That’s not really the funny part. The funny part is that this particular tract is called The Blood and the front features a picture of a severed hand with a river of blood draining out of the wrist.

The Fellowship Tract League (a ministry of the Fellowship Baptist Church) has a website; unfortunately, the electronic version of The Blood is a lot more boring than the physical copy. So I thought I’d post some of the more interesting ones . . .

S.T.R.I.K.E.

2008 April 26

Yesss.
Let the chaos ensue.

Maybe this will lead to some increased attention to bicycle safety and awareness in the city.

“It’s not fair!”

2008 April 17

Starting Monday morning at 4am, Toronto may be faced with a transit strike.  As somebody who has taken the worst transit system in the world TTC a lot over the course of the last 6 months, this is something of a conundrum of principles in my mind. 

TTC

On one hand, I think the Toronto Transit Commission really needs a freshening up.  I’ve heard that the system receives less than 1/3 the amount of money per capita than do other major cities that have excellent-functioning transportation operations, such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen.  I believe that given that about one sixth of Canada’s entire population lives in the GTA and probably closer to 1/3 comes to the city on a regular basis, all levels of government (municipal, provincial, federal) should pony-up some more cash and give this city a world-class transit system.  However, I’ve also heard somewhere that something like 25% of the City of Toronto’s budget goes towards the TTC.  How is this possible given that the service is so crappy, yet the fare is still so expensive?

On the other hand, after watching the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113‘s press conference this morning on CityTV, I can’t help but NOT feel sympathetic towards the workers.  It appeared that Bob Kinnear, the union’s President and spokesperson, used the phrase “not fair” about 10 000 times.  “We want to give him [Mayor David Miller] some time to step into this situation and do what is fair,” said Kinnear in his press appeal.

NEWSFLASH: life’s not fair.

Mr. Kinnear repeatedly compared TTC workers with both other city workers and transit workers in other areas of the Greater Toronto Area.  “Driving a street car on Queen Street in Toronto takes a lot more skill than driving a bus on Queen Street in Brampton.”  Ummm, I’m not sure if I agree with this or even understand what he means.  No offense to the streetcar drivers, but they don’t even have to steer.  The vehicles are on tracks; all they have to do other than hit the gas and the brake is open the doors and push the button so that the automated voice says “please move back.”  Forgetting about comparisons, and just thinking about this situation from a general perspective, what it comes down to is that, while this is an important service for the city, these jobs involve little skill and no education.  Is it fair for me to ask why these workers feel they deserve even greater benefits than they’re already getting – so much so that they are willing to derail (pardon the pun) an entire city, for who knows how long?

If you know me, or even if you’ve just read any of my blog posts here on TZero, you know that I am a huge proponent of public transportation.  However, I also complain a lot about the TTC because, for lack of a better term, it sucks.  The service is infrequent and sporatic, many of the drivers are unenthusiastic if not unfriendly, and a city with Toronto’s stature should have a sophisticated metro system, not these crappy streetcars.

To quote Bob Kinnear, I say “it’s not fair” that we’re stuck with the TTC.

I’ll Believe It When I See It

2008 February 15

So today it was announced that the TTC is going to be investing $21 million dollars to improve service on many of its lines, starting this Sunday.  This comes after significantly raising fares in November.  You can find the lines that are getting improved (and the supposed change in service) on the TTC website.

(photo courtesy of accordion guy)

What I find hilarious is that they think adding an extra bus or streetcar to a line will make a significant difference.   According to the Toronto Transit Commission, the College/Carleton streetcar now comes once every 5 minutes and 30 seconds, and will be improved to every 5 minutes.  This is kind of misleading, as surely these are averages.  The real problem is not the lack of enough vehicles, it’s dispatch problems and congestion.  The other day I waited for the streetcar for more than 25 minutes in the morning rush hour, only to see 14 streetcars – FOURTEEN – lined up back to back to back, coming in the other direction.

Instead of adding random buses and streetcars here and there, the TTC should invest in GPS for each of their vehicles, and a hefty improvement to dispatch training.  That way the buses and steetcars could be (and stay) properly spaced out, and therefore offer regular and timely service.

If you’re interested in further information, here’s CTV’s coverage of the story . . .

Unnecessary Construction

2007 September 19

What the hell is going on at Dundas & McCaul?  They just finished laying the new streetcar tracks and they’re already tearing the whole damn thing up again!  Why can’t Toronto just have a regular subway system like the other metropolises of the world?

Streetcars: Urban Icon or Waste of Time?

2007 July 16

trackwork.jpg

The Toronto Star recently ran this story: The Great Toronto Streetcar Debate. It chronicles Toronto’s streetcar, its history and the debate over whether the city should continue investing in a system that some argue is “slow, rigid [and] unreliable.”  Personally, I think it’s kind of hilarious that I can get to work in about half the time on my bike versus taking the streetcar. And regarding biking, the streetcar tracks are ultra annoying.
On the other hand, the classic red cars are pretty iconic and significantly more comfortable to ride than buses – perhaps the all-time worst form of transportation.
Whatever your opinion, it appears as if the streetcar is here to stay as the Toronto landmark that it is – what with the millions the city is currently investing, and its disinterest in expanding the subway.