Those of you who’ve been following my campaign or have read my website know that one of the pillars of my platform is extending the streetcar along The Queensway from the Humber Loop to at least Kipling and then eventually to Sherway. You can read all the details of that proposal in Section 4. Express Transit to Downtown. Admittedly, I conceived of the transit plan for the benefit of west end residents living south of Bloor as an efficient, affordable, elegant and quick to deploy public transportation alternative to the subway.
But let me ask you this… Were you one of the thousands of rush hour commuters this morning who was forced to abandon the subway at Keele Station and forced to fend for yourself amidst the chaos caused by the tunnel cave-in at Dundas West Station? I was. And it was not a pleasant experience.
It can be argued that the TTC should have taken more precautions to prevent this small disaster given that the construction error that led to the problem occurred the week before. However, it serves as a reminder that subway service is not always guaranteed what with power outages, accidents at track level, fire and police investigations, and so on. The problem is that we don’t have an effective transit alternative for when serious situations cause prolonged service interruptions.
Well, consider that if the TTC extended the streetcar along The Queensway and made it express as I propose, then there would be an effective alternative. Imagine instead of the TTC scrambling to dispatch buses from other roots to travel on a jammed Bloor Street, commuters could simply hop on already-in-service southbound buses at Kipling, Islington, Royal York and Old Mill stations and head down to The Queensway into the open doors of Express Streetcars. The fully loaded southbound buses coming from north of Bloor could simply stop at the subway stations and then continue south to The Queensway. Moreover, streetcars from other routes could easily be diverted to The Queensway to pick up the extra loads. No muss, no fuss, and no scrambling for extra buses and no traffic chaos.
I’m not denying the need for additional subways and LRTs. What I’m saying is that I and many west end residents are simply requesting an efficient, affordable and quick-to-deploy extension to an existing streetcar line. If Scarborough can have a $2.5B subway extension, then why can’t the residents in southwest Toronto have a modest streetcar extension that can’t possibly cost more than $100M. Relatively speaking, I don’t think it’s asking for much. And as we saw today, the benefits will at times extend to all residents in Etobicoke and West Toronto.