I wrote another fool-hearty article and posted it to the Transit Toronto mailing list and to Urban Toronto. Although I fooled nobody for long, I did manage to get a few laughs, and that’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it?
TTC Approves Plan to Replace Scarborough RT
Thestar.com > GTA Apr. 1, 2005. 07:50 AM
TORONTO: Behind the budget negotiations, behind the debates of subway expansions and an LRT network, the Scarborough RT in Toronto’s east end has loomed large in the TTC’s capital budget. However, at a special meeting convened late last night, the TTC commission approved a plan to replace the beleaguered rapid transit line.
“It was something we knew we had to deal with,” said Mayor David Miller, also chair of the committee overseeing the TTC.
The Scarborough RT, conceived as the core of a streetcar network throughout Scarborough, was transformed into a mini-subway using experimental technology at the behest of the provincial government in 1980. At the time, Conservatives under Bill Davis were looking for a showcase to display their linear-induction transit vehicles, known as ICTS for Intermediate Capacity Transit System.
Budget overruns pushed the final cost of the line to nearly $225 million in mid-80s dollars and the technology didn’t catch on. Ontario’s transit vehicle construction company, UTDC was bought out by Bombardier.
Today, the vehicles are ageing and the TTC doesn’t have enough to handle the crowds that want to travel the line. The TTC estimates that it loses six million riders each year as a result. Bombardier doesn’t offer the old vehicles for sale any more and to convert the SRT to accept the latest technology would shut down the line for years and cost $120 million.
“It’s been quiet desperation looking for ways to fix this problem,” says committee member Howard Moscoe. “It’s been hard, what with the streetcars that need fixing, the buses that need replacing, and everybody pushing for the subway to go to York U. Ideally, the SRT should just be an extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway, but where’s the money for that? Another option we considered was replacing the SRT vehicles with modified streetcars, but again, money was an issue. But so was time.”
The solution came late last night.
“We will install moving sidewalks along the right-of-way from Kennedy to McCowan station,” says Toronto councillor and former Budget Chief David Shriner. “That’s doable, and it can handle the crowds. The sidewalks are always on, there’s no waiting and best of all, no drivers are required to operate them. Take that, you union hacks!”
Restraining himself, Moscoe said, “It’s hard to say this, but the twit is right. We’ve got to keep the people moving, but we don’t got the funds. It’s a question of dollars and cents.”
Moving sidewalks used to ferry passengers the long distance between the Spadina line and Bloor-Danforth line platforms at Spadina station. The popular conveyors were removed when they became too costly to maintain. Replacing them would have cost as much as $4 million.
“This is the beauty of the plan,” said Moscoe. “We took a beating when we took those sidewalks away; now we can put them back, thanks to the beauty of volume discounts. A couple of these sidewalks goes to Spadina, and we lay down the rest along the SRT right-of-way.”
“It’s not my favourite solution,” added Mayor Miller. “But it was better than Shriner’s other idea of using a gigantic catapult to get people from Kennedy to the STC.”
David Shiner envisions the Scarborough Rapid Sidewalk network extending beyond the confines of the former SRT.
“Our subways are also showing their age,” he noted. “We’re going to have to replace them too. So do it early. If we put sidewalks on the Yonge-University-Spadina line, we could lay off hundreds of drivers. Then do the Bloor-Danforth next, eliminating that stupid transfer that everybody has to make between the subway and the RT at Kennedy.”
“I think it’s great! Just great!” said former mayor Mel Lastman. “They’re building the city of the future! They should put moving sidewalks on all the streets of Toronto. Then we’ll be like the Jetsons!”