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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

TTC: Adding insult to injury on St. Clair Avenue

I wrote on these pages in September last year:

“Remember the old Red Rocket? It was light, fast and nimble. It accelerated quickly from stops and could keep up with traffic. So the ride was a little rough and noisy, but it kept slowing traffic down to a minimum and I remember enjoying its quick pace.

Then the TTC decided it needed much bigger and heavier streetcars and the CLRV was developed. It was dramatically different that the old rocket. Over 15 meters long and at 22,685 kg, it was a monster on the tight and congested city streets. The biggest problem (nobody ever talks about it!) with the streetcar was its weight. The entire track network had to be replaced with heavier duty design at a huge cost. The streetcars would wear out the new tracks every few years anyway, so expensive replacements were needed often, costing a lot of money and tying up traffic on major streets for months!

Now we have the new streetcar from Bombardier coming to our streets. What did The Commission decide it needed? Bigger, heavier and slower streetcars, of course! At 30 meters and 48,200 kg, it is huge! Many stops and stations will have to be modified and the tracks will wear out even faster!”

Well, well, well… Now we find out that the streetcars will not fit on the just completed St. Clair Avenue West right-of-way. Never mind that the St. Clair retrofit was budgeted at $48 million and the TTC ended up with more than $100 million on the final bill. Never mind that the TTC put hundreds of merchants along trendy shopping avenue in big distress or out of business by lengthy delays and closures. It turns out that we will now have to pay another $48 million to retrofit the islands and platforms to fit the new streetcars! And the final insult is that, when they were doing the work on the St. Clair route, they already had the specs for the new vehicles!

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