17 January 2007

A Streetcar Named Displeasure

While I appreciate the aesthetic pleasantry of streetcars, I hate pretty much everything else about them. From the jerky, lurching ride to the simply terrible on time performance records, there’s a lot not to love. Quite frankly I can not imagine a worse form of transportation (except perhaps harnessing a team of blind monkeys to pull me down the street on a sled).

Streetcars are eternally getting stuck in traffic, so then they get all bunched up, which means there are more people waiting for the next car, it takes longer to load all the people who’ve been waiting, then the cars get slowed down even more, then there’s even more people waiting, even longer loading; it’s a ridiculous cycle of inefficiency.

It also drives me crazy that when stopped behind traffic at a red light, streetcars have to wait for the light to turn green, then move ahead the few meters to the stop to let people on/off, and by the time everyone is on the light has gone back to red. It would be so much better if the streetcar stop was after the intersection (I know that’s never going to happen because of traffic-flow issues, but it would improve the passenger experience by, oh, a million-billion times). I once waited at Yonge Street on the Dundas car while the light cycled through three times waiting for everyone to get on; the light changed back to red, then more people came off the subway and the light change back to red again, then more people came again!! Aaaargh!

I live for the day when I no longer have to deal with the crowded-front/empty-back and every other obnoxious hassle that is TTC streetcars.

Oh yeah, and it costs almost three dollars to ride!

Streetcars: Ask anyone, I’m the biggest advocate of public transit there is; if it were up to me, private cars would be illegal. But my love affair ended the minute I had to depend on you everyday to get to work. You are ineffective and inefficient. There’s no real hope for change, you are officially “Dead to Me.”
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(Please note, none of the above applies to the Spadina streetcar, which by virtue of having its own right-of-way, is actually fantastic. All streetcars should have their own right-of-way, but they don’t, so they suck).

12 comments:

jane said...

Could you figure out a name that would only apply to non-right-of-way streetcards? Because isn't St Clair also in the midst of getting something like Spadina's?

Is it really fair of you to spread this anti-streetcar hate so broadly, when it's just most streetcars that are dead to you?

Miss Ash said...

I think Jane may have a point. Why lump ALL streetcars into one category when really it's only SOME streetcars that should be dead to you.

I remember this older "gentleman" and two young girls arguing about having the window open on a streetcar. It escalated to the point where the old man was challenging the girls to a fight on the street. How classy.

Anonymous said...

Here are my thoughts on the streetcar issue. The fact that not many cities have streetcars, makes Toronto sort of unique and that makes me mildly content. However, when only one street has an efficient system for this method of transportation and when the city goes into a state of outrage over proposals to add a right-of-way lane to St. Clair, we need to reevaluate their allure. I say "RIGHT OF WAY OR NO WAY!" My vote goes to the College streetcar for the most inefficient route. My vote for prettiest route...the Broadview Streetcar with its lovely views of our city skyline. Oh, and when is the subway going to reach York U. or the airport??? Hasn't that been in the works for at least 10 years?

MICHAEL

tokyo tintin said...

As I believe that in transit-nerd parlance the Spadina streetcar would technically be referred to as an LRT (light-rapid-transit), I remain firm in my "Dead to Me" streetcar convictions.

Please note that the two people who are trying to be soft on streetcars, jane and miss ash, don't actually have to ride the awful things every day.

I'm with Michael, "right of way or no way!" At the very least eliminate daytime on-street parking to improve the flow of traffic. Really, how many people use on-street parking compared to all the people who are inconvenienced daily by lame-o streetcars stuck in one-lane of traffic on College street? Priorities people, priorities!

Dan said...

What gets my goat - including everything all y'all have mentioned above - is the freakishly smooth ride a streetcar provides after all that jerking about. It simultaneously reminds me of the floating nun from the Blues Brothers and makes me feel like I'm gonna horf.

And also, while goats are getting got(?), is there anything worse at slowing down the boarding process than a parent with a baby in a stroller? Getting on and off is a three-person event. Using public transportation should only rarely call for volunteers. And then they have to stay up front with these leviathan-sized prams (they weren't that big when we were little, were they?) and end up blocking the entrance for the hordes of people who've just arrived from the subway. Blech. Booyerns and raspberries on streetcars, Tintin-san.

davidcarey said...

i think definitely there are some scheduling issues to work out with all of our downtown streetcars. the worst thing in life is walking west on college/carlton or dundas and seeing SIX streetcars heading in the opposite direction than you need. maddening! the frequency and regularity or streetcars indeed needs to be addressed.

but generally i don't mind streetcar rides. i am an especially big fan of the downtown 24HR routes. clang clang clang went the trolly y'all!

Meredith said...

I was getting ready with my angry response, but then you exempted the Spadina street car, and so now I'm over it. But the buses are by far even worse for the traffic/slowness issue.

tokyo tintin said...

davidcarey--

i will not tolerate any steetcar softness here. if you're so in love with streetcars, why don't you marry one? in fact, i now pronounce you man and wife — and you're the wife!!


meredith--

how can you possibly say that buses are slower than streetcars? at least buses can change lanes and don't get stuck behind every idiot trying to turn left.


lets face it; streetcars suck, always have and always will (unless they have their own right-of-way, in which case they'd be awesome).

davidcarey said...

buses may actually travel at a faster speed than streetcars, given that they can change lanes and whatnot. HOWEVER, the routes that buses take often involve inumerable loops, turns, more stops, etc. ever taken the Downsview-YorkUniversity bus? it is all over the place.

one thing i like about streetcars is that you generally travel in a straight line, the most direct route.

i happily accept your proclamation and will now consider myself ms. streetcars of Toronto, esq.

Jennifer said...

Right of way streetcars rawk!
I don't know what the fuck is wrong with those moron St.Clair shop keepers. The St.Clair on and off transfers that allow you to go shopping and hop back on are brilliant.
On the other hand, as I was driving (yuk) past St.Clair and Avenue this morning, I got stuck in traffic for them to drive a crane in - but it will be worth the construction.
Also, when I lived on Spadina, another upside was the emergency vehicle access. When there was an emergency the police, firetruck or ambulance could just drive up or down the streetcar tracks and get where they were going super fast and no one driving had to worry about pulling over.
The whole city should be like that.

Jennifer said...

I think they're doing some bus right-of-ways through power line corridors out in the burbs too, as a cheap way of improving service. At least they were talking about it. That would definitely take some of the crappiness away from buses. But right-of-way streetcars are still better.

tokyo tintin said...

And WTF!!! We live in the second-coldest country in the world — Why don't we have subways to go everywhere for chrissakes?!? Waiting for the streetcar when the windchill is -27°? Are you kidding me?!?