Buses to replace streetcars on Queen Street this summer
Codi Wilson, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, March 1, 2017 6:28AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, March 1, 2017 11:10AM EST
For the entire summer, there will be no streetcar service along Queen Street.
TTC spokesperson Stuart Green confirmed to CP24 Wednesday that from May 7 until Sep. 3, buses will replace all streetcars along the 501 streetcar route, which stretches approximately 20 kilometres from the Long Branch Loop in Etobicoke to the Neville Park Loop in The Beaches.
The move will allow crews to carry out multiple construction projects along Queen Street, including the replacement of an overhead pedestrian walkway at the Eaton Centre, which Green said will require streetcar cables to be removed.
"We think it is actually going to be an improvement for customers versus what would have had to happen had we kept two different modes of transit on Queen Street," Green said Wednesday.
"You can imagine having to get on and off different modes of transit because of various projects along Queen Street. It just makes more sense for this particular period to run one vehicle all the way down."
Green said 65 buses will replace approximately 50 streetcars that are currently operating on the line.
According to information on the TTC’s website, the 501 Queen streetcar route carries approximately 43,500 riders each day and is one of the city’s busiest surface routes.
This is not the first time construction projects have disrupted service along the route.
Scheduled water main replacement and road reconstruction work on Queen Street between Bathurst Street and Spadina Avenue forced 501 streetcars to divert downtown from May until December last year.
Since Jan. 8, buses have replaced streetcars on the route west of Roncesvalle Avenue along The Queensway and Lake Shore Boulevard due to bridge work as well as road and track improvements.
The service disruption this summer will be the first time the TTC has eliminated streetcar service along the entire line.
Streetcars need to 'run better," Tory says
When asked about whether streetcars should be replaced by buses permanently in the city, Green said that would not be a good solution to transit problems in the city.
"The articulated streetcar is about a two-to-one ratio. You would need two buses to replace one of those. The new Bombardier cars, you would need three buses for every one of those and about one and a half buses for every regular streetcar. So the numbers actually don’t work if you add buses in place of streetcars, you are adding more vehicles to the road," he said.
Green's comments were echoed by Mayor John Tory at a news conference on Wednesday.
"Streetcars move huge numbers of people in the city of Toronto everyday... They do it very cost-effectively," Tory said.
"I think the challenge for us is to make streetcars run better... as opposed to saying we are just going to abolish them."
The mayor said on top of the cost of the new streetcars that have been ordered, the city has spent hundres of millions of dollars replacing and repairing streetcar tracks and updating the systems.
"The notion we would now just say, let’s forget about streetcars and buy buses, which have a cost and have a higher cost of operating, I just don’t think it is something that is going to be sensible."